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Pressly killer rape trial ends in mistrial, jury splits 7-5

A Lee County jury tells the judge in the Curtis Vance rape case they are hung 7-5, forcing a mistrial in his rape trial of former Marianna teacher.
MARIANNA, AR – A Lee County jury tells the judge they can not reach a verdict in the rape case against Curtis Vance, forcing a hung jury mistrial in his trial for attacking a former Marianna teacher in her home.

The jury was split 7-5, in favor of acquittal. Jury selection began Tuesday morning and the trial moved quickly with jurors deliberating for most of the day Wednesday.

Vance was accused of raping Kristen Edwards, 34, in her Marianna home in April 2008. Edwards was a Lee County High School science teacher at the time.

Prosecutors presented DNA evidence linking Vance to the attack as well as testimony from Edwards. She told jurors she never looked at her attacker because her attacker told her “I have gun and I will kill you”.

Vance took the stand Wednesday morning and simply told the jury he didn’t commit the crime. His defense attorney Bill James of Little Rock argued that the Marianna Police Department didn’t handle the investigation properly and the state’s DNA evidence didn’t really explain what happened.

“We’re happy with the verdict,” James says. “Obviously we would have preferred a not guilty verdict.”

When asked if the racial composition of 7 blacks and 5 whites played a role in the decision, James conceded, “It’s certainly possible.”

After the verdict Edwards told Fox 16 News: “We are extremely disappointed in the jury’s decision.”

Vance is already serving a life sentence for the murder and rape of Little Rock TV anchor Anne Pressly.
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