Archive for Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mistrial declared in kidnapping case

September 3, 2008

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A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the case of a man charged with the November 2007 kidnapping of his girlfriend at a south Lawrence apartment complex.

The trial for Berlon Muse began Tuesday, but was later declared a mistrial by Douglas County District Court Judge Jack Murphy.

"Information was elicited during the trial from a witness that violated one of the court's prior rulings in the case," said Cheryl Wright, spokeswoman for District Attorney Charles Branson.

During a January preliminary hearing, 22-year-old Ashley Houk testified that Muse and two women held her for 15 hours and that her fingers were struck with a meat-tenderizing hammer after she stole money from Muse to buy crack cocaine.

Runita Bell was previously sentenced to 52 months in state prison in connection with the incident. Aaron Streitberger and Annetta Moten were previously sentenced to probation.

The case against Muse will be retried Oct. 1, according to court records. Because the case will be retried, Wright said she wasn't able to release further information about the circumstances of Tuesday's mistrial.

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