We Have Another Mistrial
Mistrial declared in murder-plot trial
SIGNONSANDIEGO NEWS SERVICES
2:21 p.m. July 14, 2004
SAN DIEGO – A deadlocked jury prompted a judge to declare a mistrial today in the murder trial of a man who prosecutors say was involved in a plan to kill a business partner two years ago.
Erick Collazos, 29, is charged in the Sept. 6, 2002, murder of Alfredo "Fred" Basabe.
Defense attorney Gary Gibson told jurors in his closing argument that the victim was killed after an argument with a drug dealer.
Near the end of the day yesterday, the jury sent a note to Judge Laura Hammes saying it was deadlocked 7-5. Minutes later, jurors asked for some testimony to be read back.
As the court prepared to give the jury what they asked for this morning, jurors sent another note saying the read back was not necessary and they remained deadlocked.
Hammes sent the jury back into deliberations, but they returned from lunch deadlocked 6-6. A Friday hearing was set to determine if prosecutors will retry the case.
Collazos faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of murder and special circumstances of lying in wait and murder for financial gain.
Prosecutor Blaine Bowman said in his closing argument that an unidentified gunman shot Basabe four times in the back of the head as he sat in his car.
The defense theory that Basabe was killed in a drug deal gone bad was not supported by the facts, the prosecutor said.
There were no drugs found in the victim's vehicle, only loan documents, Bowman told the jury.
Bowman said the victim was a hard-working man who was also a low-level drug dealer during the summer of 2002.
The prosecutor said the saga began on April 1, 2002, when Basabe gave Collazos $15,000 in hopes of making it big with an investment in the B&E Installation company.
Basabe was to get 10 percent of the proceeds, Bowman said earlier. Between April and August 2002, Collazos took in $37,747, mostly for work done by Basabe, the prosecutor said.
Basabe didn't get any money from Collazos for five months and when he did, a $320 check bounced, Bowman said.
On Aug. 19, 2002, Basabe went to Collazos and told him he could do the work cheaper, the prosecutor said.
He said that on the night Basabe was killed, the defendant's friend, Ricardo Pedroza Leon, drove the getaway car after the victim was killed.
Gibson called the prosecution theory "unbelievable," telling the jury that Collazos "had no idea" the killing was going to happen.
"Is it unreasonable that (Basabe) could have been killed by a drug dealer?" Gibson asked the jury.
A different jury deadlocked 6-6 on whether Leon was guilty of murder. A retrial is set for Sept. 20.
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