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Updated Oct 3, 2013 - 6:25 pm

Jury ends for day in temple killings case

PHOENIX -- A jury in the case of a man charged with killing nine people in a suburban Phoenix Buddhist temple more than two decades ago has ended deliberations for the day without reaching a verdict.

The jury incorporated an alternate after a female juror was excused Wednesday. She had told the judge deliberations had become too emotional for her.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer instructed the panel Thursday morning that they were essentially a new jury. He said they had to start over in debating the fate of 39-year-old Johnathan A. Doody.

The jury isn't scheduled to resume deliberations until Oct. 14.

Michael Piccarreta, a prominent Tucson defense attorney who has not been following Doody's trial, said that in general, the dismissal of juror because of emotions can be a good indicator for the defense team.

"It means there's some type of debate going that is triggering some response and it would indicate there's at least a possibility there's a couple different sides to the debate," Piccarreta said.

Piccarreta said in his experience, jurors aren't often excused for emotional reasons. The decision to dismiss a juror for that could possibly be grounds for the defense to lodge an appeal.

"If you object and later they determine the judge shouldn't have done it, it could be grounds to reverse the conviction," Piccarreta said.

He also believes asking the other 11 jurors to leave behind any preliminary decisions they might have already come to was "legal fiction."

The jury had been deliberating since Sept. 24.

A spokesman for the Maricopa County attorney's office declined to comment Thursday.

Doody is being re-tried after a federal appeals court threw out his 1993 conviction in 2011. The court ruled Doody wasn't properly read his rights.

The case stems from the killing of six monks, a nun and two helpers in what police said was a robbery. Each was shot with a .22-caliber rifle in the back of the head, and some were also hit by shotgun blasts.

Doody, who was 17 at the time of killing, has maintained his innocence. But co-defendant Allesandro "Alex" Garcia pleaded guilty to the slayings and testified that Doody had planned the robbery ahead of time and intended to kill any witnesses.

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