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Billings Home Invasion Update: Hung jury in murder of wealthy Fla. couple

Byrd and Melanie Billings with their Children (Pensacola News Journal)
Billings home invasion murders: Hung jury in Fla. home invasion case
Byrd and Melanie Billings with their Children
Pensacola News Journal

(CBS) PENSACOLA, Fla. - The murder trial of Donnie Stallworth, one of seven men accused of the brutal home invasion double murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings, a wealthy Florida couple with nine special needs children, ended in a hung jury late Thursday night.

Circuit Judge Nick Geeker sent jurors home about 11 p.m. Thursday following nine hours of deliberations in the case which began Monday and was the third in the July 2009 deaths, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

The four-day trial saw testimony from co-defendants Rakeem Florence, 18, and Frederick Thornton, 21, who testified that Stallworth entered the home with a 12-gauge shotgun. Florence and Thornton, the youngest of the seven defendants, previously pleaded no contest to lesser charges of second-degree murder, according to the paper.

Stallworth did not testify and his defense presented no witnesses.

Last month, the alleged "mastermind," Patrick Gonzalez Jr., was sentenced to death after being convicted in October 2010 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of home-invasion robbery for leading the July 9, 2009, attack on the Billings' Beulah, Fla. home.

Nine of the Billings children were in the house that night when the gunmen, dressed in all black, broke into the house in a robbery described by one prosecutor as "designed with maximum shock and awe."

Click here for complete coverage of the Billings murders on Crimesider.