BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A judge declared a mistrial Thursday after a jury failed to reach a verdict in the case of a man charged with murder for stabbing another man in Oildale.
Jurors hung on whether Jesse Lopez was guilty of first-degree murder in the deadly stabbing of 53-year-old Tracy Scott Elliott near a smoke shop earlier this year. The next hearing in the case is set for Jan. 8.
Thomas Pope, Lopez’s public defender, said he believes his client acted in self-defense and, while he’s confident the jury went over every piece of evidence during deliberations, he’s disappointed it couldn’t reach a resolution.
“I do wish my client was able to go home today,” Pope said.
Lopez at most should face a manslaughter charge, not first- or-second-degree murder, Pope said. He remains optimistic the case can be resolved.
Prosecutor Marcus Cuper said they’ll explore at the next hearing whether a plea agreement is possible or if a second trial will be held. He said the jurors he spoke with indicated there was a strong difference of opinion over whether Lopez acted in self-defense and reasonably believed he had to stab Elliott before the other man stabbed him.
The jury deliberated for several days before informing the court it couldn’t agree on a verdict.
“It’s disappointing not to get a verdict, but they worked really hard,” Cuper said.
The 35-year-old Lopez has been held without bail since his arrest in the Feb. 4 killing near Sunshine Smoke Shop on Roberts Lane and Belmont Avenue.