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Beauty Queen Murder Mistrial; No Justice Yet for Nona Dirksmeyer

Nona Dirksmeyer David Clair

Nona Dirksmeyer (David Clair)
CLARKSVILLE, Ark. (CBS)  "Are y'all making progress?"

That question from Judge William Pearson, and the unequivocal "No, sir" response from the jury foreman, put an end to deliberations in the three-week capital murder trial of Gary Dunn, accused of murdering one-time Miss Arkansas contestant Nona Dirksmeyer.

The judge declared a mistrial on Saturday morning, the third day of deliberations, after the jury deadlocked.

Now the question is: will the State of Arkansas seek a retrial? Remember, Nona's boyfriend Kevin Jones was first accused of the brutal 2005 killing inside her Russellville, Arkansas apartment. He was found innocent in 2007 which led to a special prosecutor's appointment and a second investigation of the case. That's after traces of Dunn's DNA were found on the condom wrapper sitting on Nona's kitchen counter. But at the just-ended trial, the DNA evidence was disputed by a defense expert and there was little direct evidence tying Dunn to the crime.

Gary Dunn (CBS)
Of course, jurors were not allowed to hear about Dunn's previous arrest record for other crimes so the State built its case largely on circumstantial evidence, suggesting that as Nona's neighbor, Dunn could easily have targeted her.

But a strong defense team of Bill James and Jeffrey Rosenzweig kept pointing back at Kevin Jones and raising for jurors the possibility that he, not Dunn, might in fact have been responsible for the crime.

In the end, jurors were said to be divided eight to four -- with only the four voting guilty. And the final bill for the State in this second prosecution could be well over $200,000. So that could be a factor in a decision about a third trial.

But in any event, if it does happen, a new trial for Gary Dunn is at least several months away. Until then, he'll remain in custody in Johnson County, Arkansas.

MORE ON CRIMESIDER

April 28, 2010 - Nona Dirksmeyer Beauty Queen Murder Trial: Prosecution Rests in Case Against Neighbor Gary Dunn

April 16, 2010 - Nona Dirksmeyer Beauty Queen Murder Trial: Gary Dunn Defense Points to Acquitted Boyfriend

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This story was reported by veteran CBS News producer Allen Alter, who is covering the Gary Dunn murder trial for 48 Hours Mystery, and has followed the Nona Dirksmeyer case for several years.

  • Crimesider Staff

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