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KING JURY ENDS UP DEADLOCKED RETRIAL EXPECTED OVER MURDER-FOR-HIRE CHARGES.

Byline: Michael Gougis Staff Writer

SAN FERNANDO - Broke, in jail, accused of abusing his own child, his marriage shattered, out of work and desperate, Robert Edward King plotted to have his ex-wife and all of her loved ones killed, including her parents and her sheriff's deputy boyfriend, prosecutors alleged.

Eleven jurors agreed. One didn't.

Prosecutors said Friday that King, 42, of Newhall would be retried on six counts of solicitation of murder after a San Fernando Superior Court jury hung 11-1 in favor of convicting him.

Beverly Campbell, head of the district attorney's San Fernando division, said the jury's overwhelming majority in favor of conviction led to the decision to retry King - a decision legal experts said would be expected under the circumstances.

King's attorney, James Blatt, said he was confident no future jury would convict his client.

``Next time, there will be an even greater split,'' Blatt said.

King, a 20-year motion picture lighting engineer, remains in custody at the county jail facility in Newhall on $3 million bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 15.

Prosecutors alleged that King, serving a 30-day sentence for a weapons possession charge, outlined his plans for the slayings to another inmate at the county Men's Central Jail. Unknown to King, the other inmate had served as an informant to law enforcement in the past and went to the police with King's plan.

In a subsequent meeting at Sepulveda Park, the informant tape-recorded his conversation with King. The plan allegedly called for the informant to provide a hit man who would kill King's ex-wife's parents, and their money and jewelry would be stolen and used to finance the rest of the murders.

Blatt argued that King was distraught at the time - out of work and in the middle of an ugly breakup with his ex-wife.

And though the informant tried to get King to meet with the ``hit man'' - an undercover officer - King refused. Blatt argued that his refusal to actually meet the alleged triggerman indicated a lack of intent to commit the crimes.

After the initial conversations, King called the informant and told him that the plan was off and contacted at least one of the alleged victims to warn them, Blatt said. Then King contacted law enforcement himself and told them of what had happened, Blatt said.

Legally, the crime of solicitation of murder did allegedly occur, despite King's actions after the fact, so much of that information was not admitted as evidence, prosecutors said. Jurors deliberated for less than two days before realizing they were hopelessly deadlocked.

``One juror felt very strongly that the reasonable doubt burden was not met - and even if it was met, the defense had met the burden of entrapment,'' Blatt said.

Michael Gougis, (818) 713-3762

michael.gougis(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 16, 2003
Words:467
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