The jury in the murder case against David Benbow said Monday that after about 24 hours of deliberation it had not yet reached a verdict.
Here’s everything you need to know about the trial — and what happens next.
What is this process?
David Benbow, 54, is on trial in Christchurch accused of murdering his childhood friend, Michael McGrath, in May 2017 after beginning a relationship with Benbow’s former partner.
The prosecution relied entirely on circumstantial evidence during the trial. They claim Benbow was driven by jealousy and anger.
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McGrath’s body and the gun police claimed was used to kill him were never found.
Benbow has always firmly denied killing McGrath.
His lawyer previously compared the prosecution’s case to a “cheap easter egg”saying, “Once you punch through it, it’s hollow in the middle and the pieces of the shell begin to crumble into a pile.”
What’s the outcome?
On Monday afternoon, the jurors announced that they could not reach a verdict. This is known as a hung jury.
What is a hung jury?
This happens when jurors disagree on whether the defendant should be found guilty or not guilty.
Usually, all jurors must agree on the verdict before it is pronounced.
In this case, the jurors were also given the opportunity to reach a “majority” verdict, which would mean 11 out of 12 would agree.
Monday’s hung jury means that didn’t happen.
What happens now?
Things could turn out in different ways.
Benbow is still facing the murder charge.
The Crown must now decide whether to pursue a second trial.
Also, the defense may request that the charges be withdrawn or withdrawn.
The next call date for the case is May 19.
And the jurors?
The 12 trial jurors have now been dismissed and will no longer participate in the case.
If there is a new trial, it will be with a new jury.
Judge Jonathan Eaton, the judge who oversaw the trial, told jurors he understood the outcome was frustrating given the attention they paid to the trial.
What will happen to Benbow?
He has been released on bail to his father’s address in Dargaville, where he will remain electronically monitored.