A Myrtle Creek man will face a new trial after a second trial for the 2013 murder of a Tri City man resulted in a second mistrial Thursday, adding another twist to the complicated case.
Closing arguments were expected Thursday afternoon in the second trial for William Christopher Aguayo, Myrtle Creek. Judge William Marshall declared a mistrial after it was discovered that there had been inappropriate contact with a juror.
Deputy District Attorney Steve Hoddle and Aguayo defense attorney Don Scales will meet Monday morning in Marshall’s courtroom to determine a date for the new trial. A new jury will have to be selected once again.
The decision by Marshall comes a year-and-a-half after a Douglas County jury voted 11-1 to convict Aguayo on a charge of murder, a verdict which was overturned after a mistrial was declared.
Aguayo was 21 when he was arrested in connection with the death of William Bruton, 57, during the alleged murder, robbery and burglary at Bruton’s home on Ulam Lane in Tri City in October 2013.
Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Randy Garrison declared a mistrial after the jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on the murder charge, although Aguayo was convicted of first degree burglary and second degree robbery charges.
Hoddle, the prosecutor during the first trial, asked Garrison at the time to accept the jury’s 11-1 verdict as guilty instead of declaring a hung jury. Garrison decided to declare a mistrial and the case was set for a new trial.
The Constitution requires a unanimous verdict to find a defendant guilty of first-degree murder, but Oregon doesn’t have such a charge. In Oregon, the charge is either aggravated murder or murder and Aguayo was accused of aggravated murder, which Hoddle argued does not require the unanimous verdict.
Judge Garrison has since retired and Judge Marshall is presiding over the case.