Judge Lee Ann Breading declared a mistrial Friday in the case of former Rangers pitcher John Wetteland.
After beginning deliberations Friday around 9:30 a.m., the jury returned to the courtroom at about 5:09 p.m. to speak with Breading. The presiding juror indicated it was doubtful more deliberation would allow the jury to come to a verdict.
The jury told the judge it was split with 10 jurors voting “not guilty” and two jurors voting “guilty.”
Breading said a new trial date would be discussed on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, prosecutors Rachel Nichols and Lindsey Sheguit and defense attorney Derek Adame gave their closing statements as Wetteland’s trial on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child resumed. The trial, which had been delayed numerous times, began Monday.
Nichols told the jury the defense has “drug [the accuser’s] name through the mud,” joked about his trauma and tried to make his worst fears come true — that he won’t be believed.
In order to believe the defense’s theory that the accuser or those he lived with had it out for Wetteland, Nichols said, the jury must believe he is either a vindictive criminal mastermind or a puppet who has “regurgitated” a lie for six years. The defense said a man named Chris — who is not biologically or legally related to the Wettelands but lived with the accuser at the time of the outcry — manipulated the accuser.
The accuser has lost family members and his privacy, Nichols said. He has no relationship with Chris anymore, she said, so he would not gain from lying about sexual assault.
“In fact, it cost him everything,” she said.
Nichols recapped part of Wetteland’s cross-examination Thursday where the state asked if he was aware of why he was being arrested beforehand. No, he said. The state asked about texts between him and the accuser before the arrest that the state said indicated Wetteland did know ahead of his arrest why he was being arrested. He said he did not recall.
Sheguit asked whether they had texted each other. Wetteland said they had not.
The state approached Wetteland with documentation of the messages. He then said he did recall the text messages, then said he didn’t remember them.
In her closing statement Friday, Nichols said Wetteland was not honest with the jury about his recollection of the text messages. He’s hiding something from you, she said to the jury.
Adame then gave his closing statement, in which he said the only verdict the jury could return with was not guilty because justice and the evidence presented to them demanded it.
He said those who believe the accuser do so because it is their job to. There is a checklist they have, he said, and so long as a child’s outcry ticks each box, then they believe abuse occurred.
But there is more going on with this case, he said. There are two different versions of the accuser, Adame said, Wetteland’s and Chris’. The case was never really about Wetteland or even about the accuser, he said, but about Chris and the person Chris manipulated the accuser to be.
Adame recapped the bullying and toxicity that defense witnesses testified Chris exhibited. The home the accuser lived in was a constant barrage of bullying, Adame said. While Wetteland knows he should have done more, Adame said, Chris’ access to the accuser allowed him to alienate the child from those who could have protected him.
The case was a way for Chris and the accuser’s mother to get one last dig into Wetteland because they hate him, Adame said. And the trial is the last thing the accuser had to sit through to be free from the lie forever, Adame said. He asked that the jury give Wetteland and everyone else their freedom back, too, with a verdict of not guilty.
Sheguit’s closing statement also brought up the text message questioning. She asked the jurors if Wetteland was willing to lie about that, what else was he lying about?
She asked the jurors why Wetteland would do nothing if the accuser and his younger sister’s home was such a horrific environment because of Chris. Sheguit said the defense could have asked the witnesses what that home was like, but they didn’t.
She told the jurors to ask themselves what reason or motive would the accuser have to take an oath and lie to them under penalty of felony perjury.
She asked them if there was some elaborate plan for Chris and the accuser’s mother to get back at Wetteland, why would they not have the accuser’s younger sister make the outcry? Wetteland testified Thursday that he was not as close with this child but that he was very close with the accuser. The younger sister explained their dynamic similarly in her testimony Tuesday.
Sheguit said the accuser’s family scapegoated him as a child and made him out to be a child you couldn’t always trust. She asked the jurors why Chris would choose the scapegoat to tell a lie of sexual assault.
Wetteland knew this day was coming, and there are some sins you can’t wash away, she said.