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Mistrial declared in Ohio highway shootings case

Insanity defense divides jurors

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A judge declared a mistrial yesterday in the case of a man who admitted to a string of highway shootings -- one of which killed a woman -- but who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The mistrial came after jurors failed to reach a verdict following four full days of deliberations in the trial of Charles McCoy Jr., charged with 12 shootings that terrified Columbus-area commuters over five months in 2003 and 2004.

County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said he would retry McCoy, 29, who could have faced the death penalty if convicted of the most serious charge, aggravated murder, for the one death in the case. Gail Knisley, 62, was killed Nov. 25, 2003, as she was being driven to a doctor's appointment.

Earlier in the day, jurors told Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles Schneider they voted twice on the issue of insanity and could not reach a unanimous decision. Schneider ordered them to continue trying. He sent them home about an hour later, when the panel said it was still at an impasse.

''We have no indication at this time that this will change," jurors told the court in a note read by the judge.

The jurors, who were first summoned April 8 and heard eight days of testimony, were escorted out of the courthouse at their request and did not comment.

If found innocent by reason of insanity, McCoy would have been committed to a mental hospital until a judge ruled he was no longer a danger.

The defense admitted that McCoy was behind the shootings, as well as about 200 acts of vandalism involving dropping lumber and bags of concrete mix off of overpasses.

But his attorneys insisted he did not understand his actions were wrong because he suffered from untreated paranoid schizophrenia.

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