A Prince George's County jury reported last night it was deadlocked in the trial of Terrence G. Johnson, the 16-year-old charged with murdering two county police officers. The presiding judge told the jurors to return to their motel for the night and to come back this morning.
The development came at 10.45 p.m. after 17 1/2 hours of deliberations over two days. The jury sent a note to Circuit Court Judge Jacob S. Levin saying: "Your Honour, we are deadlocked and cannot reach a decision."
While the jurors remained away from the courtroom , the judge called on prosecution and defense attorneys to recomment what he should do.
State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr. said he though the jurors should be sent to bed for the night. Defense attorney Allen M. Lenchek said he thought the judge should declare a mistrial.
The jurors then returned to the courtroom, and it was apparent that two of them had been crying.
The judge asked the foreman whether the jurors had reached a verdict on any court of the indictment, which accuses Johnson of the fatal shootings of police officers Albert M. Claggett IV and James Brian Swart in the Hyattsville police station last June 26. Levin said the foreman could give him only a yes or no answer.
After a long pause and a repetition of the question by the judge, the foreman responded: "No we have not."
Levin then turned to one of the four blacks on the jury and asked whether he agree. "Yes , Your Honor, I do," was the reply.
The judge asked three women jurors the same question. Two responded that they agreed, but one did not answer, appearing too choked with emotion to reply.
Judge Levin then told the jurors: "The hour is late. Your are tired. I am going to send you back to the motel for the evening, and we'll all be back here at 10 a.m. in the morning."
At least six of the 12 jurors were seen crying as they boarded a bus for their motel where they have been sequestered since the trial began 12 days ago.
A key defense contention is that Johnson was being beaten by one of the officers and killed him in selfdefense, the became temporarily insane and killed the second officer. Johnson is black; the dead officers were white.
Defense attorney Lenchek said after the jury had left, "I don't think this jury can ever reach a verdict. I look upon this us a victory for our side. The state thought it had an open and shut case because he [Johnson] had killed two police officers. Apparently that's not true. Whatever happens now, we have tremendous grounds for an appeal."
Lenchek said the judge told him he will hear a motion for a mistrial this morning. But Lenchek said he got the impression that Levin intends to have the jury deliberate for a long time.
Prosecutor Marshall said: "I know the judge is going to have them continue deliberating. I'm discouraged for the sake of the [dead officer] families. But all the studies show that when you have a week's trial the jury needs at least 50 hours for deliberation. . . ."
In six days of testimony, the defendant was portrayed in vividly contrasting ways by the prosecution and defense.
Marshall described Johnson as an arrogant murderer of two defenders of justice, while the defense pictured him as a younster frightened out of his mind, acting in self-defense.
Johnson took the witness stand to testify that he had been picked up by police along with his brother, Melvin, on suspicion of breaking into a laundromat coin box. Taken to the basement of the Hyattsville police station, he testified that he was kicked in the groin by Officer Swart. When Claggett took him into a fingerprinting room, Johnson testified,, "I was sure he was going to kill me. I thought he was going to break my necks."
Clagett was slain with his own 38-caliber police revolver, which also was used to kill swart.
Prosecution witnesses testified that Johnson had given the officers a hard time in the police station and had swung their chair at Swart. In prosecution testimony, a witness said Johnson "looked cool, calm and collected" when he shot Swart.
Contributing to this story were Washington Post Staff Writers Jackson Diehl and Jonathan Mandell.