For the second time, a mistrial was declared after jurors became hopelessly deadlocked in the attempted rape case of a motel clerk accused of assaulting a housekeeper.
Jurors in the trial of Navjit Singh deliberated five days but found itself unable to budge beyond an 8-4 split in favor of acquittal. The jury first alerted the court late last week of its stalemate but Judge Jack Grandsaert sent them back into deliberations to continue trying to reach consensus.
The question now is if prosecutors will try yet again to convict Singh, 36, of allegedly groping and attempting to rape a maid at the Ramada Inn in South San Francisco on Sept. 9, 2011.
In November 2012, a jury in his first trial deliberated three days before convicting Singh of attempted rape, assault with the intent to rape, sexual battery and false imprisonment. The following April, Judge Jonathan Karesh heard the defense argument for a new trial on several grounds. Karesh didn’t find any prosecutorial misconduct or defense incompetence but felt that the race issue had deprived Singh of due process and set aside the verdicts.
Prosecutors opted to retry the case earlier this year but, during jury selection in March, the defense successfully sought a mistrial due to newly uncovered video surveillance of public areas like the hallway that needed reviewing. The video had always been in the prosecution’s custody but was never opened previously.
Unlike in the first trial, Singh did not take the stand to testify on his own behalf.
According to prosecutors, front desk clerk Singh entered a room where the Spanish-speaking maid was cleaning a bathtub. After a verbal exchange, he is accused of grabbed her, putting his hands down her shirt and forcing her onto a bed to pull off her clothing. After a few minutes of the victim screaming, Singh reportedly got up and apologized with his hands in a praying pose before returning to the front desk. The woman told another maid but asked her not to tell the manager and police because she was afraid of losing her job and being deported back to El Salvador.
Defense attorney John Halley declined to comment on the case pending the prosecution’s retrial decision which is due July 22.
Singh remains free from custody on $100,000 bail.
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