Jury to decide Ray Tensing's fate -- again -- starting today

Posted at 7:05 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-19 07:23:15-04

CINCINNATI -- Monday's closing arguments are only thing left before jury deliberation begins in the retrial of former University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing.

It's been a hard-fought conflict between prosecution and defense, the bitterness perhaps compounded by the fact that nearly everyone involved is riding the merry-go-round for a second time.

Friday delivered another tearful testimony from Tensing, who dabbed at his eyes as he recounted the day he shot and killed Sam DuBose during a traffic stop, and another round of denunciation from DuBose's sister, Terina Allen.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about Ray Tensing's testimony

With small exceptions, including one conspicuous alteration to Tensing's story -- that DuBose had pinned his arm inside the car and then accelerated, forcing him to shoot to protect himself -- the retrial called the same experts, told the same stories and made the same arguments as the first.

So what happens if it has the same outcome?

The jury in Tensing's first trial informed Judge Megan Shanahan after three days of deliberation that it had become deadlocked. Then-Prosecutor Joe Deters said four jurors thought Tensing was guilty of murder, four thought he was not guilty and four thought he was guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

Shanahan ordered the jurors to return for a fourth day, but it took only two hours for them to declare, again, that they could not reach a unanimous verdict. She declared a mistrial.

If the deadlock happens a second time, Judge Leslie Ghiz will be forced to declare another mistrial. At that point, the onus is on the prosecution to decide whether Tensing ought to be tried a third time.

Multiple retrials are uncommon but not unheard-of in our area; Ryan Widmer, convicted in 2015 of drowning his wife in a bathtub, was tried three times before a credible jury found him guilty. 

Tensing could also be convicted next week of either murder or voluntary manslaughter. The former conviction would net him a prison sentence of 15 years to life, and the later would carry a sentence of up to five years.

Finally, Tensing could be found not guilty. It's difficult to imagine moving on from such a protracted legal battle -- even if the charges are dismissed, a Google search of Tensing’s name yields 408,000 results linking to trial coverage from international outlets as diverse as The Guardian, New York Daily News and Slate. 

Even if he avoids prison, DuBose's death will mark Tensing for the rest of his life.

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