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DNA doubts lead to murder mistrial

Some of the jurors weren't sure how much trust to place in the DNA findings in the 11-year-old murder.

A jury deadlocked on the validity of DNA evidence in the case of a man accused of beating to death a woman 11 years ago, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial.

Franklin A. Smith, 53, mouthed "I love you" to his wife after the decision. Bailiffs then led him out and back to jail, where he will await a new trial sometime in the next few weeks.

Less than two hours after beginning their deliberations, the jurors sent a note out to the judge saying they had varying degrees of trust in the DNA evidence. The judge read legal instructions telling the jurors how to try again, but two hours later, they sent out another note and Circuit Judge Cynthia Holloway declared a mistrial.

Eileen Mangold, 50, was working as a cashier Sept. 19, 1989, when witnesses saw a man force her into her station wagon and drive off with her in the passenger seat, according to sheriff's reports. Her car was discovered five hours later at Krycul Avenue in Riverview. Her body was found eight hours later.

Investigators found fingerprints on the car but could not link them to anyone. Last year, a fingerprint expert found a partial print taken from the hood of the car matched Smith. The jury did not hear about Smith's lengthy criminal record, which includes aggravated assault and rape charges.

Investigators questioned Smith, who told them he never knew Mangold and never had sex with her. When asked, he provided a blood sample. Authorities arrested Smith in December after DNA tests came back as a match to the semen found on the blouse.

Smith's attorneys attacked the DNA findings, disputing the trillion-to-one odds that the semen belonged only to Smith and the way investigators labeled and handled the samples.

Juror Ernest Street, who did not want to say which way he voted, said most of the hang-ups were over the DNA.