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So how is it that a jury can be deadlocked 11-1 on a charge of "peeking" for several days (including a weekend) and then take only 15 minutes to conclude that the same defendant was not guilty of "attempted peeking"?

And how is it that someone can approach a window in the middle of the night, look at the window and even break a screen covering the window, but not have looked through the window?

These are just some of the questions that have us scratching our heads in the aftermath of Supervisor Efren Carrillo's bizarre trial last week.

The fact is we may never know the answers. Most members of the jury, so far, aren't talking, and they don't have to.

I know serving on a jury isn't easy. I've been there, and I have great respect for anyone who does it, particularly given the legions today who will lie, cheat and defy the law — by not showing up when summoned — to get out of jury duty. Being impaneled and asked to reach a unanimous verdict is that much more difficult.

That said, it's my opinion this was probably the worst outcome of this high-profile trial — for the county, the judicial system and, possibly, for Carrillo himself.

Why? Because one of the county's top elected officials ended up walking away legally unscathed from an incident in which a woman was terrorized, awoken in the middle of the night by her screen being torn by a man lurking outside — and he did the tearing and the lurking. To make matters worse, he did it clad in nothing but boxer shorts and socks.

By his own admission in court, he said he was hoping for sex — from a woman he barely knew — just an hour after being dropped off by his girlfriend.

As my son would say, that's messed up.

But apparently it isn't illegal. Or at least it doesn't rise to the level of attempted peeking.

What is it then? Trespassing? Loitering? I don't know. But it would have been better for all involved if Carrillo had been held accountable for something.

Listen to the 911 tape that was finally released last week. It's clear the woman identified as Jane Doe didn't see this as some kind of prank.

"There is a man who tried to get into my window," she says on the tape. When the dispatcher later tries to ask specific questions, she is clearly flustered, "I'm with my friends here, and I'm shaking," she said. According to her testimony, she and her two friends were also clutching knives they had grabbed from the kitchen.

But there was no conviction. Carrillo walked away from court Monday without so much as a parking ticket. And it's fair to say that this has left many locals angry.

We live in an age when distrust of our institutions is at an all-time high. This kind of outcome certainly doesn't help that problem.

Carrillo was quick to blame all of this on a binge drinking problem. But given the evidence presented at trial, the testimony of police officers who said he didn't appear to be drunk and the level of clarity with which he was able to remember his actions, it seemed evident that deplorable judgment was the primary issue. Alcohol was secondary.

In defense of the prosecutors, I think they tried to throw the book at Carrillo. They just missed. Maybe they threw the wrong book. I don't know.

But Carrillo's colleagues on the Board of Supervisors aren't done trying. They're planning to denounce him when they meet on Tuesday for "conduct unbecoming of public officials," which is certainly true. They also will probably strip him of key assignments. But in the end, it will just be more finger-waggling. There's only so much they can do.

Some of you, no doubt, are already crafting emails to me, saying, "Paul, let it go. The guy was found not guilty. It's time to move on."

I recognize that the court of public opinion is deadlocked on this. For a full-throated defense of Carrillo, turn to page T7 where two west county residents chastise us because we "chose to judge him in absentia, pronounce him guilty and proclaim he should resign." (This was in reference to our Tuesday editorial "Efren Carrillo should step down.") They suggest we need to write about Carrillo's accomplishments.

Others also have asked why we called for Carrillo to resign just hours after he was acquitted last week. It's simple. Because while a jury may have found him not guilty, most reasonable people would agree he certainly wasn't innocent. And we believe our elected officials need to be held to a code of conduct a little higher than the penal code — particularly a legal construct known as "peeking."

Ultimately, the verdict in this case mattered little in our minds. What mattered is whether the evidence and the testimony offered a better or worse explanation of Carrillo's conduct in the early hours of July 13. We were uniformly of the opinion that it was the latter. It's clear in the response we have received since then that many readers share that view.

So if he's not going to step down — and he has shown no sign of doing so — Carrillo is just going to have to put on his big-boy pants and deal with the consequences outside the courtroom. The public isn't done deliberating.

<i>Paul Gullixson is editorial director for The Press Democrat. Email him at paul.gullixson@pressdemocrat.com.</i>