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Jury deliberations extended in Towson mall murder trial

After meeting for roughly eight hours on Tuesday, a Baltimore County jury failed to reach a verdict in the trial of two of the four men accused in the killing of 19-year-old Rodney Pridget in December 2011 outside the Towson Town Center mall.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, jurors were dismissed for the night and will reconvene Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 9:30 a.m.

The jury has been tasked with delivering verdicts on counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and use of a handgun to commit a violent crime in the trial of Frank Williams, 32, of Lansdowne and William Ward III, 45, of Baltimore.

Deliberations began Friday, Aug. 31, but after several hours without a verdict, the jurors were dismissed for the Labor Day weekend.

Reconvening on Tuesday, deliberations began just after 1:50 p.m., and ran into a bump when, at 6:46 p.m., word came that an issue had arisen with one of the state's exhibits: A document containing cellphone records of Jermell Brandon, 35, also charged with first-degree murder in relation to the killings, was found to be missing the first of four pages.

Brandon allegedly spotted Pridget in a shoe store at the mall on Dec. 19 and called Williams' phone, an act prosecutors believe set the planned killing in motion. Prosecutors allege that Williams, Ward and Brandon met at the mall and followed Pridget, and that a fourth man connected to them — Tyrone Brown, 20, of Baltimore — shot Pridget six times as he left the mall.

Brown has also been charged with first-degree murder but is not on trial in this case; Brandon has already reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

The cellphone-record exhibit provided little drama. Judge Robert Cahill asked the jury for the exhibit back, and eventually retrieved all five cellphone-record binders from the jury room.

Deputy State's Attorney Robin Coffin suggested the lost page may have become missing when the pages were taken out during witness testimony.

Public Defender Hoss Parvizian, who is representing Williams, presented no objections when a copy of the page from Coffin's records was made and inserted into the exhibit binder. Michelle Moodispaw, attorney for Ward, objected on the grounds that she didn't know for sure that it was in the exhibit to begin with — but her objection was overruled.

The jury was sent back in with the exhibits at 7:43 p.m., and had not reached a verdict by 10 p.m., when they were sent home for the night.

Williams and Ward were charged in February for their role in the killing, which prosecutors said Williams planned as retribution for a shooting Pridget allegedly committed two weeks before he was killed.

Before the jury could reconvene Tuesday afternoon, Brown appeared in court for a preliminary hearing. Coffin said his trial, which was scheduled to begin on Sept. 11, has been postponed until 2013. Coffin said his trial date would be set within three weeks.

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