Local News

Second Jury Deadlocks in Trial of Former NCSU Officer Charged with Sexual Assault

Posted January 14, 1999

— After deliberating for about four hours, the jury deadlocked by a vote of six to six in the re-trial of Pierre Debnam. Debnam is a free man, at least for now.

Debnam's family was visibly relieved as they left the courtroom. The victim, on the other hand, was emotionally distraught over the second mistrial in the case.

Prosecutor Frank Jackson says it's a hard case to try, because during the alleged assault, the defendant is only accused of intimidating, not touching, the victim.

"I'm not exactly surprised. It's a difficult legal concept. The fact that he didn't touch her -- he's a law enforcement officer. It was eight to four before, six to six now. It's just an unusual case," Jackson said.

Jackson says legally he can try this case again. But first, he will consult with the jurors, and he will also consult with the victim in this case.

The victim has filed a civil lawsuit against Debnam and the N.C. State Police Department. Apparently, that case will go ahead as planned.

The victim took the stand in both trials. Debnam did not take the stand in either trial.

The defense rested its case Friday morning after choosing not to present any witnesses. Instead, the defense attorney focused on the victim, painting her as "mentally ill."

The prosecution painted the defendant as a predator who betrayed the student's trust.

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