A Circuit Court judge in Fauquier County yesterday declared a mistrial in the case of Randy Waterman, master and huntsman of the Piedmont Hunt, who is charged with fleeing the scene of an April car accident that seriously injured an Upperville physician.

Fauquier County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kevin F. Casey requested the mistrial on the opening day, saying Waterman's defense--which questions why prosecutors took three months to seek an indictment--demands that Casey testify.

"I can't play both roles in the same trial," Casey said, adding that he would testify that the delay was "not at all unreasonable."

Waterman, 51, is accused of felony hit-and-run in connection with an April 25 accident that seriously injured William Katz. Police said Waterman left and reported his involvement three hours later.

Waterman's lawyer, Rodney Leffler, told jurors in his opening statement that the Katz family last week sent him a letter demanding $3.2 million from Waterman and that they had pressured prosecutors to pursue a criminal case. The Katz family has not filed a lawsuit.

"We have a position . . . that the Katzes were pushing this forward, that the Katzes wanted [a criminal case] to help their civil claim," Leffler told Judge James H. Chamblin later, arguing against Casey's motion for mistrial.

Fauquier County Commonwealth's Attorney Jonathan S. Lynn has said that criminal cases often are presented directly to a grand jury to determine whether charges will be filed. He said the crash investigation by Virginia State Police had not been completed when the grand jury met in May and that the case was presented to the next grand jury, in July.

Chamblin set a hearing Jan. 24 to pick a new trial date.