Judge Kicks Off Juror In Cape Cod Murder Trial; Woman Taped In Phone Call To Jailed Boyfriend

Published: Nov. 14, 2006 at 6:13 PM EST
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(BARNSTABLE, Mass.) -- A woman was thrown off the jury in the case of a murdered fashion writer Tuesday after she was recorded discussing media coverage of the case and telling her jailed boyfriend that police officers were "dumb."

The development came a day after jurors said they were deadlocked following five days of deliberations on the charges against Christopher McCowen, a garbage collector in the Cape Cod town where writer Christa Worthington was killed. The juror was replaced with an alternate, and the judge ordered the panel to start deliberations over again.

The defense asked for a mistrial, but Judge Gary Nickerson refused.

In two phone conversations recorded Monday night between the juror and her boyfriend, Kyle Hicks, the juror disparaged police officers as "dumb" and spoke of Court TV coverage of the Worthington case. Hicks, a suspect in a shooting over the weekend, is being held in the same Barnstable jail as McCowen.

"I am so mad that somebody leaked it out about me" being a juror, she told Hicks in the taped conversation, played in court Tuesday.

Nickerson said the juror, when questioned by him Monday, had said she had only a distant relationship with Hicks. The judge also agreed with prosecutors that she showed a potential bias against police and had ignored his admonitions to avoid media coverage of the case.

He told the remaining jurors that the woman was being removed for personal reasons.

Worthington, 46, had left a glamorous life in New York for tiny Truro to raise her young daughter. She was found lying in a pool of blood in her home, dead from a single stab wound to her chest, with 2½-year-old Ava clinging to her body.

Several of Worthington's ex-boyfriends had initially come under scrutiny during the investigation, including the man who found her body and the father of her child. Some members of the victim's family asked Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe to step away from the case because he was quoted as disparaging the unmarried victim for her various affairs.

McCowen is charged with murder, rape and burglary in the January 2002 killing. He initially denied having any physical contact with Worthington, then later claimed he did have consensual sex with Worthington and beat her during an argument but didn't kill her.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)