Mistrial in case of woman charged in stabbing death
Published: September 26, 2012
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ST. CROIX - The trial of a woman charged with stabbing her live-in boyfriend to death in 2010 ended in a mistrial Tuesday after jurors failed to reach a verdict after a second full day of deliberations.
Carmen O'Neill, 47, was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault and possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a violent crime, all as acts of domestic violence. The trial began with jury selection on Sept. 17 and closing arguments were delivered Friday evening.
Jurors returned Monday morning and began deliberations at 9 a.m. They recessed at 5 p.m., after they had indicated to the court on two occasions that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
V.I. Superior Court Presiding Judge Darryl Donohue ordered them to continue their efforts Tuesday. The jury resumed deliberations at 9 a.m. Just before 3 p.m., they indicated to the court that they still were deadlocked.
Donohue at that time declared a mistrial and dismissed the jurors.
Assistant Attorneys General Melissa Ortiz and Esther Thompson, who co-prosecuted the case, said the V.I. Attorney General's Office will seek to retry the case and will be ready as early as November after they have checked the availability of all of their witnesses. They asked the court that O'Neill remain on the previous conditions of release and continue to avoid contact with all witnesses in the case.
O'Neill remains on bail with a curfew.
Assistant Public Defender Kwame Montilewa said the defense team would be looking into finding a new expert witness for the new trial and may need additional time, possibly into early next year, to find someone, receive a report and prepare for trial.
Donohue scheduled a status conference for Nov. 13 and said he expects at that time to be able to set a tentative date for the new trial.
On Jan. 17, 2010, police responded to a call about a domestic dispute and found Reynaldo Marin, 31, lying dead on his apartment floor.
O'Neill later was arrested.
During the course of the four-day trial, jurors heard from police officers, physicians, three of the couple's neighbors, two of O'Neill's sons and O'Neill herself.
Prosecutors charged that O'Neill's actions were intentional and that she should be held accountable for the stabbing and death of the man.
In opening statements, Ortiz said that during an argument at their apartment, O'Neill threatened to kill Marin. Ortiz said Marin tried to avoid O'Neill, but she was deliberate in her assault and the fatal stabbing.
The defense maintained that Marin abused O'Neill for years and that she had sought intervention through numerous restraining orders.
The defense said that Marin was drunk and out of control when he began beating O'Neill, and she was forced to defend herself and stabbed him.
According to police, emergency dispatchers received a call about a domestic dispute in Building 7 of Candido Guadalupe housing community, but by the time they got there, Marin already had been stabbed.
When police arrived after the stabbing, O'Neill was in the apartment along with three small children, and had put the knife back in a kitchen cabinet. She was in the process of mopping the floor, and buckets of bloody water were found in the bathroom.
According to police, O'Neill told officers that she remembered the fight and getting the knife, but did not remember the stabbing. She said she was cleaning the blood to provide easier access for the emergency medical technicians when they arrived at the apartment.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.