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Jury deadlocks on Fort Bragg teen murder suspect's competency

A seven-day trial for a Mendocino County teen charged with murdering his sister?s ex-boyfriend ended Thursday morning with a stalemated jury.

Jurors, who began deliberations late Wednesday, were evenly split on the question of whether Marcos Escareno, 16, is competent to stand trial, said Deputy District Attorney Matt Finnegan.

Escareno was 14 years old when he was charged with shooting and killing Enoc Cruz, 21, outside his sister?s home on the Manchester Indian reservation.

His defense attorney, Katharine Elliott, sought the trial on his competency, saying he is unable to communicate well enough to assist with his defense in a meaningful way.

Escareno has a low IQ, is immature and may suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome stemming from childhood abuse, according to court testimony by defense witnesses.

Prosecution witnesses said Escareno has sufficient communication skills and that he is competent to stand trial.

Elliott could not be reached Thursday morning for comment on whether she would ask for a new trial.


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