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Mistrial declared, hung jury in Whyte murder trial

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Mistrial declared, hung jury in Whyte murder trial
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A new trial reaches the same conclusion for an Ithaca man charged with murder. The judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors in the Corbin Whyte trial reached an impasse. The first trial also ended in a mistrial in May 2011. Tamara Lindstrom has been following the case, and tells us what's next.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- It's been two years since Paul Garcia was found shot to death in an Ithaca apartment complex. And two trials later, still no conviction in the killing.

Corbin Whyte, 28, is charged with two counts of murder, robbery, and tampering with physical evidence related to the crime. But after four days of deliberations, the jury couldn't agree on a verdict. Forcing the judge to declare a mistrial, and leaving attorneys...

"Disappointed. Gratified at the hard work the jury did, but disappointed that the one juror could not be brought around to see reason as we see it," said defense attorney James Baker.

"There's a lot of evidence in this case the jurors have to weigh and deliberate upon. And especially given the tenor of what the jurors' questions were, it was clear that they just had some issues that they were trying to work out," said assistant district attorney Andrew McElwee. "I think the evidence is very strong, and I anticipate that we'll go through it again and try this a third time if that's what it takes."

The prosecution announced they're prepared to go ahead with a new trial any time. It's a prospect the defense hopes to avoid.

"If it has to be done again, it will be done again," Baker said. "But hopefully cooler heads will prevail and it will be seen that there's really no reason and no basis to move forward against Corbin Whyte on this."

While a new jury will be selected, the evidence against Whyte remains the same.

"Certainly we'll tweak the manner in which we present it and see if there's a way we can make it more presentable and easier to understand for the jury," McElwee said.

But the defense says the evidence just isn't there.

"I remain confident that Corbin Whyte will never be convicted of the serious crimes he's charged with here," Baker said. "I remain hopeful that the District Attorney's office will come to its senses and stop prosecuting."

After the trial, Whyte was taken back to the Tompkins County Jail where he is being held on $25,000 bail. Baker says he'll try to have that amount reduced, while McElwee wants it increased. The judge will make a decision on that next month.

After thanking the jury, Judge Rowley said there was nothing wrong with the jury or the system, it was just a difficult case. Meanwhile, Whyte will face previous drug trafficking charges in Chemung County.

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