Despite the mistrial, Corey Bowen, 32, continues to face charges of fourth-degree felony extreme cruelty to animals after he and Teddy Sexton, 32, allegedly cut off a pit bull's head with a chainsaw when the kitchen knife they first used didn't work.
The six-man, six-woman jury was evenly split in its final vote about Bowen's guilt.
In a note to Chief District Judge John Dean on Monday, one hour after resuming deliberations Tuesday, jurors said they could not unanimously decide.
"We have people on each side that say they could not change their vote even if we hash this out for two days," the note stated.
"Based on the question the jury asked, it appeared that at least some of the jurors may not have understood the jury instructions," Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
The jury, which began deliberating the case at about 4 p.m. Monday, questioned the definition of extreme
cruelty to animals.
Dean told the panel to rely on the court's instructions, namely, that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bowen intentionally or maliciously tortured, mutilated, injured or poisoned the dog, Thor, with a knife or maliciously killed Thor, and that Bowen helped encourage or caused a crime to be committed.
Bowen's attorney, Eric Morrow, believed the issue among jurors was the law itself.
"As the law is written, if you injure an animal in self-defense, you are guilty of felony," Morrow said outside the courtroom.
The extreme cruelty to animals statute is considered a felony, but unlike its counterpart misdemeanor offense, cruelty to animals, there is no written language that provides for lawful justification, which could include self defense, Morrow said.
The crux of Morrow's argument to the jurors in Monday's trial was that Bowen assisted in killing the pit bull because he was bent on protecting his children.
"My client — he's passionate," Morrow said during closing arguments Monday. "He's behaving like a moron in many ways but he's passionate about his children. Common sense aside, he didn't want another child to be bit."
Police reports indicate both Sexton and Bowen went to kill the dog, Thor, after it bit a 9-year-old girl during a September barbecue at Sexton's home on County Road 2929 in Aztec.
Panic ensued among the six adults, none of whom called the police or 911 to report the bite.
Sexton, in October, pleaded guilty to the same charge, which carries a prison term up to 18 months. But because of Sexton's criminal history, he faced and was sentenced to a mandatory eight years in prison.
"The dog attacked my niece, bit her in the throat and I killed him," Sexton said on the stand Monday.
Sexton testified he acted alone when he severed the dog's head with the chainsaw, stepping on Thor's head to hold the animal down.
Largely at question was the method the men used to kill the dog, versus whether they should end the dog's life.
The state failed to prove that Bowen was present when Sexton used the chainsaw, but testimony indicated the man helped Sexton cut the dog's neck with the knife.
The incident sparked outrage among animal activists worldwide, with e-mails circulating from as far as Australia. The District Attorney's Office, following the incident, received more than 600 e-mails in a mass petition seeking justice for the dog.
Thor, a 2-year-old pit bull, was secured with an 8-foot logging chain in Sexton's yard, approximately 100 yards from the home. The dog lived its entire life on the chain.
A second dog, Karma, a litter mate of Thor's, also was chained in the yard.
Tina Roper, director of the Aztec Animal Shelter, found a home for Karma in Colorado, where she is "living the life of luxury," Roper said Monday.
Karma, who would cower in the back of her kennel when she first arrived in Colorado, now goes for a daily run and plays with children, Roper said.
Although declared a mistrial, Bowen is not off the hook for the charges. O'Brien said the state plans to retry the case.
Elizabeth Piazza: email@example.com