LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ A judge declared a mistrial in David Hale's state trial, saying the Whitewater figure's prolonged hospitalization has placed an unreasonable burden on jurors.

Hale, who will still have to stand trial in the case, was hospitalized with a heart ailment April 23 about an hour before opening arguments in the trial were to begin.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge David Bogard called jurors to court Thursday to tell them they were off the case, then scheduled jury selection for a new trial for July 8.

``It is an imposition to the jury to bring them into a case like this, to put them off for one week, then to say come back in two or three months ... solely because of the absence of the defendant,'' Bogard said.

Hale, who was a key witness in the trial of President and Mrs. Clinton's former Whitewater business partners, is accused of lying to state regulators about the financial health of a burial insurance company.

Hale attorney David Bowden said Hale is to be released from the hospital Monday and should be healthy enough for trial by the end of May.

But Prosecutor Larry Jegley, who asked for the mistrial, has said one of his witnesses cannot return from Africa until July because of business concerns.

Hale was one of the main witnesses in the 1996 Whitewater trial of then-Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and James and Susan McDougal. All three were convicted.

He served 21 months of a 28-month sentence after pleading guilty to fraud and was released in March. He remains on three years' probation.

Hale had argued that immunity granted in his federal plea agreement should have shielded him from state prosecution, but six courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, rejected that argument.