A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury was to resume deliberations today in the trial of John G. Dietz II, who is accused of the October 1990 murders of his parents.
The jury of seven men and five women got the case about 1 p.m. yesterday and Judge John G. Turnbull II sent them home about 8 p.m. when they failed to reach a verdict.
Mr. Dietz faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
During the six days of trial testimony, the jury heard the prosecution portray Mr. Dietz as a hateful, greedy son who sneaked into the farmhouse of his parents early on the morning of Oct. 25, 1990, and murdered them in their bedroom in order to inherit their 18-acre horse farm.
But the portrait of Mr. Dietz, 28, painted by defense attorney Leslie A. Stein is that of a love-sick dupe whose girlfriend conspired with police to trick him into confessing to a crime he never committed.
Mr. Stein also charged that prosecutors could not prove anything about how, when or why the parents were murdered. "They have no idea how it happened," he said.
On the night of Oct. 28, 1990, the bodies of John G. Dietz Jr. and Lillian Dietz, both 63, were discovered in their blood-splattered bedroom by police who had broken into the house. Friends of the Dietzes had grown worried about them after not seeing them for a few days and called police.
Each victim had been shot once in the stomach at point-blank range, stabbed repeatedly and bludgeoned in the face. Evidence showed their skulls had been crushed.
In sharply contrasting closing arguments, prosecutors and Mr. Stein battled over what the mountain of evidence meant.
A. Dean Stocksdale, an assistant county state's attorney, led the jurors through a string of circumstantial evidence that suggests the Dietzes, who were last seen alive about 10:30 p.m. Oct. 24, were murdered in the early morning hours of Oct. 25.
The killer, who showed a familiarity with the Dietzes' farm in the 7700 block of Inwood Ave., parked at Chadwick Manor and crossed Interstate 70 by taking a dirt trail and using a hole in a chain link fence that the defendant knew about, said Mr. Stocksdale.
Mr. Stocksdale said the killer then used a house key that the victims kept in their unlocked Ford pickup truck to enter the house, went to the basement bathroom and got a loaded shotgun that was kept there then unplugged the kitchen phone.
"The issue is not whether a crime was committed," said Mr. Stocksdale. "The issue is who did it. . . . This case will not appear on 'Unsolved Mysteries' because the killer is in the courtroom and he's sitting right over there," he said as he pointed a finger at the defendant.
The strongest evidence against Mr. Dietz, said Mr. Stocksdale, are tape-recorded conversations between the defendant and his former girlfriend, Yvonne Bohn.
In the first tape, made Nov. 12, 1990, Miss Bohn tells the defendant that, "I know you did it."
"What does he say when accused of murdering his parents?" Mr. Stocksdale asked, rhetorically. "'Let's not talk over the phone.' The defendant doesn't say, 'Hey, what are you talking about, I didn't do this.' No, he says, ' I'll tell you about it, but not on the phone.'"
Mr. Stein countered by saying that his client was so in love with Miss Bohn, and he hadn't seen her in four days, that he wouldn't talk on the phone so he could see her in person.
The couple met later on Nov. 12, 1990, in a room at the Westgate Motel on U.S. 40 that homicide detectives had bugged.
According to the state's transcript of the discussion, the couple talked about the slayings and at one point Mr. Dietz said, "I mean, this could all come back on me."
"Didn't you cover your tracks?" Miss Bohn asked.
"I don't know," Mr. Dietz replied. "I thought I did, but. . . ."
Mr. Stocksdale called Mr. Dietz' statement "an admission to murder."
In his closing argument, Mr. Stein pointed to a Nov. 15, 1990, tape-recorded telephone conversation between his client and Miss Bohn.
"The defendant is asked 24 times -- count them," Mr. Stein said. "Twenty-four times he is asked by Yvonne Bohn about the murder of his parents. Twenty-four times, he denied it."