Dietz faces retrial in parents' slayings Jury fails to reach verdict after 13 hours.

January 22, 1992|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Baltimore County Bureau

John George Dietz III, 28, was in jail today awaiting a new trial after a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury declared itself deadlocked over whether he fatally beat, shot and stabbed his parents in October 1990 at their horse farm near Patapsco State Park.

Only a faint look of relief crossed the features of the pale, red-haired defendant at the announcement yesterday. He will remain in jail without bail as he awaits a new trial on charges that he murdered Lillian and John George Dietz Jr., both 63, in their bedroom in the 7700 block of Inwood Road. Prosecutors want to invoke the death penalty.

After deliberating about 13 hours since Monday, the jurors notified Judge John Grason Turnbull II about 4 p.m. yesterday that they were hopelessly deadlocked, nine voting for a guilty verdict and three voting not guilty.

During six days of testimony, prosecutors James O. Gentry Jr. and A. Dean Stocksdale produced a string of friends and neighbors who told the court that Mr. Deitz had for years said he hated his parents, and even spoke of killing them. Several said that he seemed to react coldly to their violent deaths, which the prosecution said occurred during the predawn hours of Oct. 25.

Mr. Dietz's former girlfriend, Yvonne Bohn, 22, of Elkridge, testified that he was eager to inherit the 19-acre farm and live there with her, although she also said she wasn't serious about him.

He met her Oct. 25 with flowers, candy and a bracelet, saying "We have no money problems now," she testified. She cooperated with police to obtain a confession from him, resulting in several hours of tapes, some played for the jury.

Defense and prosecution lawyers differed strongly about the meaning of his taped comments, in which he ranged from metaphysical speculation to adolescent incoherence.

Defense attorney Leslie A. Stein attacked the girlfriend's testimony, arguing that Miss Bohn used Mr. Dietz. He noted that she had been fired as a caretaker for the Dietzes for keeping the place like a pigsty, and he emphasized that she -- as well as others who hunted on the farm -- knew that keys to the house were left in the Dietzes' unlocked pickup truck outside.

Mr. Stein also challenged the autopsy reports, producing an expert witness who said the two bodies had decomposed at such different rates that they must have been killed at different times or places.

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