Jurors in Cope trial deadlock 3 times; judge says try again - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Jurors in Cope trial deadlock 3 times; judge says try again

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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

The judge overseeing the sentencing phase of the Christopher Cope trial has told jurors to keep deliberating, even though they've declared themselves a hung jury three times.

This time around, the judge reminded the jury to deliberate without considering sympathy as a factor. They were told to come back at 4:45 p.m., or earlier if they reach a decision.

Cope's defense lawyers continue to push for a mistrial in light of the jury's continued inability to decide if Cope should spend life in prison or receive the death penalty.

Caddo District Court Judge Mike Pitman had given the jury until Noon to come up with a verdict after Cope was found guilty of killing a Shreveport Police Sergeant. When they returned, they reported that they were still deadlocked.

In order for the jury to render a death verdict, it has to be unanimous. A hung jury would result in an automatic life sentence.

Deliberations stalled twice Thursday evening, as jurors returned to the courtroom to announce that they were deadlocked by a vote of 7 to 5. Both times, Pitman sent them back to continue deliberating.

Cope's defense team has asked the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of appeals to intervene, arguing that the judge's refusal to accept the jury's position that they are hung is sending the jury the wrong message. They renewed their objections Friday, claiming that "We've invaded the secrecy of the jury's deliberations." KSLA News 12's Fred Childers reports that the defense appears to be making the charge that the now the jury is being manipulated.

Cope, 26, was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Shreveport Police Sgt. Timothy Prunty. Prunty, a 19-year-veteran of the force, was shot five times outside a southwest Shreveport Circle K in October 2010.

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SIDEBAR: Cope trial continuing coverage

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Continuing coverage in the criminal trial of Christopher Cope, charged with 1st degree murder in the shooting death of Shreveport Police Sgt. Timothy Prunty, a 19-year-veteran of the force. More>>

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