Monday, June 13, 2011
By Steven Kreytak
A judge declared a mistrial Monday after a Travis County jury reported being hopelessly deadlocked on whether a former stripper and her boyfriend committed murder or aggravated robbery in the death of a strip club patron last year.
Jessica Krause-Patterson, 20, and Jon Tyrell Banks, 23, had been accused of killing Elmore Allen, 49, after he left the Hot Bodies Gentlemen’s Club, where Krause-Patterson worked. Defense lawyers argued that Banks struck Allen to protect Krause-Patterson from an impending sexual assault.
The jury deliberated for three hours Friday and close to eight hours Monday. The foreman first reported that the panel was split 7-5 in the early afternoon, and despite state District Judge Bob Perkins’ encouragement that they reach a verdict, the jury
foreman later reported it was hopeless.
“It is our firm belief that this decision is final and will not change without a surrender of our conscientious convictions,” the foreman wrote in a note read by Perkins in court.
Prosecutor Kathryn Scales said prosecutors would further evaluate the case before deciding whether to proceed to trial again.
Perkins’ decision to declare the mistrial satisfied none of the dozens of family members of the defendants and Allen waiting at the courthouse.
One woman seated with the defendants’ supporters cried.
Derbie Allen-Roberson, one of Allen’s sisters, said: “We pray for that family; we pray for those two defendants.
“We don’t hate them, but Elmore was a loving person,” she said.
[ Defense lawyers David Frank, who represented Banks, and Russ Hunt Jr., who represented Krause-Patterson, said the decision shows weaknesses in the state’s case. They said jurors told them the split was 7-5 in favor of acquittal.]
“The jurors thought they probably were guilty, but the state didn’t present enough to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hunt said.
Allen, who worked as a furniture store deliveryman, was a regular at area strip clubs, including Hot Bodies on Burleson Road in Southeast Austin. He went there early in the afternoon on April 12, 2009, flashed a pocketful of cash, drank heavily
and received private dances from several strippers, including Krause-Patterson, who performed under the stage name “Sin,” according to testimony.
Two dancers told the jury that he was rude and had touched them inappropriately.
At some point after midnight, Banks arrived at the club but left with his brother about 1:45 a.m., according to testimony.
[ Defense lawyers argued that because Banks was not at the club when Krause-Patterson was done working, she reluctantly accepted a ride from Allen. Because Krause-Patterson did not want a customer knowing where she lived, she told him to go to an apartment complex on Bluff Springs Road where she used to live, and that she called Banks and told him to meet them there, the defense argued.]
Scales argued that it was a setup and that Banks was waiting at the apartment complex when Allen and Krause-Patterson arrived and hit him in the head with a hard object, knocking him back into some landscaping. She said that after he struck
his head on some stone and died, they took his cash, a ring and his cellphone.
Scales noted that Banks had sent a text message to a friend about 1 a.m. saying “this bread still here,” evidence, she said, that he was sizing up Elmore for robbery. She also noted testimony that Banks later gave a gun and a ring to a friend and that he burned his clothes.
[ Defense lawyers said that Allen began to grope Krause-Patterson on the drive and that Banks punched him to protect her from what she believed was an impending sexual assault. They said if the pair had planned to rob Allen, they would have done it in the desolate area near the strip club and not in a heavily populated apartment complex.]
“Just because of what she does for a living doesn’t mean she has to put up with these unwanted advances from people,” Hunt said.