Mistrial for Miss. mayor accused in duplex attack

Published 12:01 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2009

JACKSON (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the case of Mayor Frank Melton, accused of leading a sledgehammer attack on a duplex he suspected was a crack house.

Jurors told U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III they were hopelessly deadlocked after five days of deliberations.

They arrived at the same conclusion last Thursday, but Jordan told them to keep trying.

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“The mayor has lived to fight another day,” Melton attorney John Reeves told reporters outside the courthouse.

Prosecutors indicated they want to try Melton again and asked for a conference call next week. Jordan said a gag order will stay in place to prohibit attorneys and defendants from talking about the case. Melton and former bodyguard Michael Recio will remain free on bond.

Prosecutors say Melton was drunk the night he led the vigilante-style raid. They charged him and Recio with violating the civil rights of the duplex’s owner and tenant.

Melton, a self-proclaimed tough-on-crime politician in his first term, said he was only trying to help the city and the tenant.

Attorneys for the 59-year-old mayor argued the duplex was a haven for drug distribution and other illegal acts.

Melton and Recio each faced up to 25 years in federal prison. They had previously been acquitted of state charges in the case.