High court to decide double jeopardy question

October 11, 2011 - 9:50 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide whether a jury forewoman's offhand comment that the jury was unable to make a decision on a murder charge means the suspect can't be retried on that charge.

The high court on Tuesday agreed to hear an appeal from Alex Blueford, whose murder trial in Arkansas ended in a hung jury.

The jury forewoman told the judge before he declared a mistrial that the jury had voted unanimously against capital murder and first-degree murder. The jury had deadlocked on a lesser charge, manslaughter, which caused the judge to declare a mistrial.

Blueford argued the forewoman's statement, said in open court, meant that he has been acquitted of capital murder and first-degree murder.

Prosecutors decided to retry Blueford on all three charges. He contended he could not be retried on capital murder and first-degree murder because of Fifth Amendment double jeopardy protections.

Arkansas courts have disagreed. The high court will now review that decision.

Blueford was on trial for killing his girlfriend's 20-month-old son.

The case is 10-1320, Blueford v. Arkansas.