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Juror Booted From Cape Code Murder Trial

November 15, 2006

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) _ A deadlocked jury restarted deliberations in the case of a fashion writer who was killed after one of its members was dismissed for talking about media coverage and telling her jailed boyfriend that police officers were ``dumb.″

The replacement of the young woman Tuesday _ whose telephone conversations were recorded by jailers _ came over the objections of an attorney for Christopher McCowen. McCowen is charged with aggravated rape, first-degree murder and burglary in the January 2002 slaying of Christa Worthington.

Jury deliberations were scheduled to resume Wednesday morning. Jurors have been sequestered at a hotel since Monday, when they told Judge Gary Nickerson they were unable to reach a verdict on all three charges.

``Altering the composition of this jury at this point absolutely destroys the defendant’s right to a fair trial,″ said attorney Robert George, whose immediate motion for a mistrial was denied.

In two phone conversations played in court Tuesday between the dismissed juror and her boyfriend, Kyle Hicks, a suspect in a weekend shooting, the juror disparaged police officers, and said Court TV had reported a link between a juror in the Worthington case and the shooting.

``I am so mad that somebody leaked it out about me″ being a juror, she told Hicks, who urged her to find a way off the jury. Hicks is being held in the same Barnstable jail as McCowen.

She also complained that officers had interviewed her about Hicks’ alleged involvement in a shooting Saturday morning, calling them ``dumb.″

The judge said the juror, when questioned by him Monday about the shooting, had said she had only a distant relationship with Hicks, who is the father of her child. The judge agreed with prosecutors that she had ignored his admonitions to avoid media coverage, and that her statements showed a potential bias against police, requiring her removal.

Worthington, 46, was found lying in a pool of blood in her Cape Cod home, dead from a single stab wound to her chest, with her 2 1/2-year-old daughter clinging to her body.

McCowen, who was Worthington’s garbage man, initially denied having any physical contact with her. But after police showed him a DNA report linking him to the crime scene, he told eight different versions of the events leading up to Worthington’s death, a state police trooper who testified during the trial.

McCowen said he had consensual sex with Worthington and beat her during an argument, but claimed his friend, Jeremy Frazier, stabbed and killed her. Frazier was never charged.

Prosecutors told the jury that McCowen’s DNA was found on Worthington’s body and said his own statements to police amounted to at least a partial confession.

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