Lancaster murder trial ends in mistrial after reference to prior case

Written by The Associated Press | May 14, 2019 3:00 PM

(Lancaster) -- A judge has declared a mistrial in a homicide trial after a witness referred to the defendant's acquittal in an earlier homicide case.

LNP newspaper reports that Tuesday's ruling came after a former prison inmate testified he felt intimidated because he said 43-year-old Wilberto Melendez said he got out of a homicide case.

Melendez was on trial in the October 2017 slaying of William Cooper Jr., who was found shot on a Lancaster street. But jurors weren't supposed to know he was acquitted in 2016 in the November 2014 death of 32-year-old Jeremy Torres outside an after-hours party.

Attorneys said they hope for a November retrial. Defense attorney Jack McMahon said he had been "comfortable with" the direction of the trial and his client had been expected to testify Wednesday.

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