Hung jury declared in Conley trial

Published May 18, 2017 at 4:36pm

The jury in the Kaitlyn A. Conley murder trial was unable to reach a unanimous verdict after nearly a week of deliberations. A hung jury was declared this afternoon.

Conley, who remains free on bail, will likely have a new trial in the Fall. Conley will return to court on June 2 to begin preparations for the next trial.

Until then, Conley and her family returned home to Sauquoit today.

"The family's been through a lot. We're strong and we know she's innocent," said Conley's mother, Cathleen, outside the courtroom.

"A mother knows. A mother knows her child."

Conley, 24, did not speak to the media. She remains charged with second-degree murder, among other charges, for the death of her boss, Dr. Mary L. Yoder. The District Attorney's Office has accused Conley of poisoning Yoder with the deadly toxin colchicine on July 20, 2015.

The trial lasted three weeks with more than 40 witnesses for both the prosecution and defense. The jury began deliberations one week ago, on Thursday, May 11, and deliberated of nearly 24 hours between then and today.

Shortly before noon today, the jury sent a note out to the judge about their deadlock.

"We, the jury, will never reach a unanimous verdict," they wrote in the note.

Judge Michael L. Dwyer gave the jury a long lunch and asked them to give it one last chance when they returned. The jury said the lunch break made no difference and the judge accepted the hung jury.

According to defense attorney Christopher Pelli, the jury was split in favor of acquittal, though he declined to say how many jurors were in favor of which side. The jurors themselves left the courthouse without talking to the media.

"The way I look at it is this: the people were charged with proving this matter beyond a reasonable doubt with 12 jurors, and they failed," said Pelli outside the courtroom. He has argued that Conley is innocent of the crime.

"I feel that it's certainly a victory; not complete. I liken it to: we won the battle but not the war. We're willing and ready to go forward."

Pelli argued that there was no evidence that Conley administered the toxin to Yoder on the day in question. Pelli told the jury that there was more evidence that Yoder's husband, William, was the real killer.

"This is an extraordinary experience for any person to go through, let alone a 24-year-old woman who has never been in trouble before," Pelli stated.

"It took a lot of effort to keep her spirits up, but she and her family have proved to be very, very strong."

The Conley family is expected to have to return to court this Fall when the District Attorney's Office brings the case to trial once more.

"I'd like to thank the jury for all their hard work. We're back to square one, and we'll probably be re-trying this case in the Fall," said Assistant District Attorney Laurie Lisi outside the courtroom.

The prosecution argued that they had evidence Conley ordered the colchicine online in January 2015. Lisi told the jury that Conley wanted to get back together with her ex-boyfriend, Adam Yoder, and planned to poison Adam's mother, Mary Yoder, to make that happen.

When their relationship fizzled after Mary's death, the prosecution argued that Conley then tried to frame Adam by writing an anonymous letter to the Sheriff's Office.

"After a day or so of deliberations, it was clear to me that they were struggling with something, so yeah, I'm not surprised it ended in a mistrial," Lisi said today.

"I thought we had a strong case, I still think we have a strong case and we'll be ready to go in the Fall."