After hearing argument and recessing to deliberate, Chester County Court Judge Thomas G. Gavin declared a mistrial in the murder case against 36-year-old Morgan M. Mengel this morning. Distraught relatives of the victim, Kevin Mengel Jr., 33, began weeping as the judge issued his decision. He said he regretted delaying closure for all the parties in the case but felt that the jury had been irrevocably tainted.
The prejudicial remark came during the testimony of a West Goshen Township sergeant, who recalled that the defendant's father told him his daughter could be "despicable." The judge said he feared the jury might not be able to forget hearing such a damning remark, which would deprive the defendant of a fair trial. The judge commended Assistant District Attorney Deborah Ryan "for her candor to the court" in admitting that she intentionally elicited the comment, mistakenly believing that it was admissible. "I find no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct," the judge said, explaining that, as a result, the case would be retried as soon as schedules allowed.
For more information on the case, see earlier postings. To read more about today's decision, see http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20120203_Mistrial_in_Chesco_triangle_murder_case.html