MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A Melbourne jury could not decide on Friday whether a man was mentally fit to stand trial on charges that he had murdered six people by driving a car through a lunch-time crowd in a pedestrian-only street in Australia’s second largest city.
The Victoria state Supreme Court jury had heard conflicting expert evidence of the mental state of James “Dimitrious” Gargasoulas. The jury of 12 deliberated for nearly four days before reporting they could not reach a unanimous decision.
Justice Lex Lasry discharged them, saying a new jury would have to be selected.
“There are those among you who had strongly held views and you were right not to compromise,” Lasry told the jurors. “These things happen.”
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- How to find a quality mask (and avoid counterfeits)
- Popular TV anchor catches COVID for a second time: 'This virus is scary'
- Tonga volcano's eruption was so forceful, it may have helped clear Seattle's fog
- Here's the difference between N95 and KN95 masks, and how to spot a fake
- Sports on TV & radio: Local listings for Seattle games and events
Gargasoulas is charged with six counts of murder and 28 counts of attempted murder after allegedly driving a stolen car through pedestrians in downtown Bourke Street in January last year. The car came to a halt because a fuel line broke.
The tragedy came amid global concern over extremists using vehicles to strike crowds, following truck attacks in Berlin and Nice, France. But police said the Bourke Street incident had no links to terrorism.
Two psychiatrists told the court the 28-year-old was unfit to stand trial, but a psychologist disagreed.
Defense lawyers argued Gargasoulas was “profoundly psychotic,” believed he was a “messiah” sent to save the world from a comet and should not stand trial.
But prosecutors said he should stand trial, arguing he understands his case and the trial process.
Genna Angelowitsch, a lawyer for the victims’ families, said the jury deadlock was a blow.
“The families of the loved ones killed in this tragedy are devastated by this further delay,” she said in a statement. “They hope the process can quickly move forward from here.”
The case will return to court next month. Gargasoulas is being held in a secure psychiatric hospital.