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Juror dismissed from Arizona temple killings retrial

Johnathan A. Doody, right. (AP Photo)

PHOENIX -- A juror in the retrial of a man charged in the 1991 killings of nine people at a suburban Phoenix Buddhist temple was dismissed Wednesday after saying the process was too emotional.

The female juror refused to continue when the panel arrived Wednesday morning. Deliberations were halted. The juror told the court she was emotionally worn down.

``I'm about to that point where it's hard to go back in,'' the juror said.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer dismissed the woman after an afternoon hearing in front of defense attorneys and prosecutors. He said the juror's situation would be the same, regardless what side of the issue she was on.

Two alternate jurors are being brought in Thursday morning, in case one of them cannot commit to the trial. If neither of them is able to serve, then a mistrial could be declared, Kreamer said

``I'm loath to dismiss a juror in day six of deliberations,'' Kreamer said. ``But she was not able to get herself in the room this morning. I don't think she's got a clear head.''

Defense attorneys representing Johnathan A. Doody, who was in the courtroom, objected to the juror's dismissal.

``The judge made his decision and I respect that,'' defense lawyer Maria Schaffer said.

A second juror also requested to speak with the judge. The woman told Kreamer her views were being challenged by a few jurors. However, she confirmed to Kreamer it would be helpful if he instructed the other jurors to be respectful and fair to the entire group.

Doody was 17 when he was accused of participating in the slayings of six monks, a nun and two helpers during a robbery. He was convicted in 1993 and sentenced to 281 years in prison.

Doody, now 39, is being retried after a federal appeals court overturned his conviction in 2011, noting that he wasn't properly read his rights.

Another man, Allesandro ``Alex'' Garcia, pleaded guilty in the killings and was sentenced to life in prison in exchange for his testimony against Doody and a promise that prosecutors wouldn't seek the death penalty against him.

Garcia said he and Doody, who was born in Thailand, wanted to steal large amounts of gold and cash that they believed to be kept by the monks. Authorities said the robbers ransacked the temple's living quarters and made away with about $2,600 in cash, cameras and other valuables.

Jurors got the case on Sept. 24.

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Follow Terry Tang at https://twitter.com/ttangAP

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