IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Mistrial in rape case of man who killed TV anchor

An Arkansas judge has declared a mistrial in the rape case of a man who was separately convicted of murdering a television anchorwoman.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An Arkansas judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the rape case of a man who was separately convicted of murdering a television anchorwoman.

Lee County Circuit Court Judge Richard Proctor declared a mistrial in Curtis Lavelle Vance's rape trial because the jury couldn't reach a verdict.

Vance is charged with raping a woman in Marianna in April 2008. He was convicted last year in the rape, robbery and slaying of KATV morning anchorwoman Anne Pressly in her Little Rock home in October 2008.

Prosecutors say DNA recovered from the Marianna attack matched DNA recovered from Pressly's home. Police already suspected Vance in the sexual assault, and he agreed to have his DNA tested. Prosecutors say it was a match in both attacks.

The Lee County jury deliberated about three hours before the forewoman told Circuit Judge Richard Proctor that the panel had reached an impasse, with five in favor of conviction and seven voting for acquittal.

Defense attorney Bill James moved for a mistrial, which Proctor granted with no objection from Prosecutor Fletcher Long.

Jurors would not comment after the judge dismissed them from the courthouse in Marianna.

The Forrest City Times-Herald reported that the alleged victim said after the ruling that she was disappointed and felt that jurors opposed to conviction had made the wrong call.

On Tuesday, the woman testified in detail about the attack, saying her assailant repeatedly threatened to kill her and that he had a violent demeanor. She was also an important witness in Vance's capital murder trial in Little Rock, where prosecutors showed that a law enforcement database indicated a match between DNA from a hair found in Pressly's bedding matched DNA swabbed after the Marianna rape victim.

James argued that law enforcement officers did not do a good job in using DNA evidence. Vance took the stand Wednesday to deny he attacked the woman. Vance said he did not know how his DNA got on the woman.

Vance said Little Rock police pressured him to make a statement about the Pressly case and claimed they harassed him after a recording device was turned off. James told jurors that Little Rock investigators were devoted to finding someone to take the blame for Pressly's killing, not solving a rape about 100 miles to the east in Marianna.

Long said he would decide later whether to retry Vance, who is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole for Pressly's murder. Vance has appealed that conviction.

Long had called three DNA specialists from the Arkansas Crime Laboratory to explain the process of testing and comparing DNA, and to explain how the evidence from the Marianna attack was handled. James did not cross-examine any of the three, but in closing arguments sought to cast doubt on the outcome of their work.