Mistrial declared after jury fails to reach verdict in W.Va. shooting case

Flor Slone was accused of kidnapping, trying to kill her estranged husband

July 20, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Berkeley County Circuit Court judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a woman accused of shooting her ex-husband in October 2009 after the victim removed her from his health insurance.

Presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes declared the mistrial in the case of Flor Demaria Slone after the jury foreman said the jury couldn't decide the case. The jury deliberated for about five hours over two days.  

"I don't see any way around (the impasse)," the foreman told Wilkes.

Wilkes could have asked the jurors to deliberate further, but said he didn't want to put them in a position to return with a compromised verdict.

Before informing Wilkes of the impasse, the jury Wednesday morning asked the judge for copies of two police reports. Neither could be made available to the jury, Wilkes ruled.

Slone, 42, was accused of shooting her then-estranged husband, Stephen Slone, 47, after learning he had removed her from his health insurance policy.

She was indicted in May 2010 on felony counts of kidnapping, attempted first-degree murder, attempted malicious assault and malicious assault in connection with the incident.

Before the trial, which started July 12, Slone was given the opportunity to enter guilty pleas to the malicious assault and attempted murder charges and declined the offer.

Under the proposed plea agreement, the prosecution would have dismissed the other two felony counts, and a two- to 10-year sentence and a three- to 15-year sentence for the convictions would have been served concurrently. Slone also would have been ordered to pay restitution.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said she would decide whether to retry the case, ask for the dismissal of the charges or try to reach a plea agreement within the next 60 days.

When asked to comment about the outcome after the hearing, Games-Neely said she felt the jury worked very hard and that it was obvious to her that jurors had become "entrenched" on either side of the case.

Defense attorney Thomas L. Stanley said he was pleased that Wilkes declared a mistrial, but also was disappointed by the outcome.

"I'm disappointed there was someone on the jury (who) thought she was guilty," Stanley said.

Slone, who testified in her own defense Tuesday, said she took a gun to her ex-husband's home at 5409 Winchester Ave. on Oct. 21, 2009, the day of the shooting, but denied pulling the trigger.

Before leaving the home south of Martinsburg to return to her residence in Jefferson County, Slone said she gave her husband a kiss and told him she loved him, and he told her the same.

Stephen Slone testified last week that Flor Slone's parting words were "die you bastard, die," after shooting at him twice. But Flor Slone testified Tuesday that she didn't say that because she doesn't swear.

Stephen Slone also testified that he was seated in a light brown recliner in the corner of the living room when Flor approached, fired a .22-caliber pistol into a square pillow that she held up near him and then fired the gun a second time after the first shot did not go through the cushion.

He testified that the second shot went through his right shoulder and exited his back. Games-Neely said the evidence presented did not point to any other possible shooter other than Flor Slone.

Stanley argued that evidence presented in the trial didn't support the victim's account, alleging that the shooting amounted to a "staged" crime that Stephen Slone orchestrated to avoid paying alimony. He also argued that the evidence didn't support the victim's statements about how he was shot.

After being shot, Stephen Slone supposedly attempted to take his own life last summer.

After being incarcerated at Eastern Regional Jail, he jumped from the second floor of the jail, attorneys told Wilkes. In a letter to his ex-wife, Slone said he broke his neck, back, tailbone, a few ribs, left leg and heel, according to court documents.

Stephen Slone robbed City National Bank in Inwood, W.Va., on Jan. 28. He pleaded guilty last month in federal court in Martinsburg to one count of bank robbery.

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