The judge presiding in the case of two young men accused of killing a Johansen High School student in a drive-by shooting in 2004 declared a mistrial today.
Jurors had been deliberating the case since Tuesday.
Ernestina "Tina" DeJesus Tizoc, 17, was killed by a shot from a passing vehicle as she sat under a gazebo in Oregon Park in Modesto. She was not a gang member but was wearing a maroon blouse in a neighborhood where gangs fight over red and blue.
An exhibit that the jury was not supposed to see was somehow placed among other exhibits in the deliberation room, said Mike Tozzi, executive officer of the Stanislaus County Superior Court.
The exhibit, said juror Rudy Marquez, 42, of Modesto, was a summary of defendant Rigoberto Moreno's background and history. Jurors came across the information Wednesday.
Juror Sharon Hubert remembered from the trial that a decision had been made that the jury should not see Moreno's history. She tried to discourage other jurors from looking at it and wrote a letter to the judge explaining the error.
"It's a disappointment," she said. "We spent a lot of time. We could have come to a conclusion that the DA hadn't proven their case. There were too many holes."
The defendants were tried on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and participating in a criminal street gang.
To reach guilty verdicts, the jury would have had to believe that Moreno, 20, and Pedro Castillo, 19, both of Modesto, were aiding and abetting the alleged shooter, Edgar Barajas, 20, of Modesto, and driver Jesus Rodriguez, 19, of Patterson.
Barajas and Rodriguez are to be tried separately. A fifth suspect, Mario Garcia, 21, of Modesto, was expected to gain his freedom after testifying at both trials.