MERCED -- Jury selection for the second trial of double-homicide defendant Robert Thompson is scheduled to begin June 9.
The upcoming trial opens a new chapter in the deaths of two Atwater girls, 12-year-old Jodi Ragsdale and 15-year-old Sheila Carter. They were found bludgeoned to death along Campodonica Road near Cressey on Dec. 13, 1986.
Thompson is accused of bludgeoning Ragsdale and Carter to death with a car jack.
Although Thompson stood trial in February, at least four members of the 12-member jury were unconvinced of his guilt and the case ended in a mistrial.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Moranda said he couldn't comment on whether his office will pursue a different strategy for Thompson's second trial. "We're confident with our case, and we're prepared to go ahead," Moranda said.
Defense attorney Randy Thomas said he expected that the case would be retried because of its notoriety. Thomas also said his client believes the first trial was fair.
"I think the facts, as I know them at this time, are very favorable to the defendant," Thomas said. "There's an awful lot of unanswered questions, and we look forward to getting this case resolved in its entirety."
Friends and family members of the victims said they were pleased Thompson will be tried a second time. "There is no doubt in my mind that we've got the right guy," said Steven McCarthy, a boyfriend of Carter's, who was one of the last people to see her alive. "A guilty verdict is what I am looking for."
Thompson's family and supporters say the case is an example of an innocent man standing trial for a crime he didn't commit. Carlton Taylor, a friend of Thompson's who has been present throughout the trial, said even witnesses for the prosecution seemed to provide testimony pointing to Thompson's innocence.
"All anybody wants is justice," Taylor said. "I would be happy if whoever did this was caught."
Thompson remains at the Merced County Main Jail without bail.