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Mistrial declared after Dunn jury unable to reach verdict

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published January 28, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.


Gary Dunn looks out Friday night just after being buckled into an Arkansas State Police patrol car. A jury for the second time was unable to reach a consensus on Dunn's guilt or innocence in the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer.

— A jury has again been unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of Gary Dunn.

The jury foreman told Johnson County Circuit Judge Bill Pearson on Friday night that the group was unable to agree on a verdict. Pearson then declared a mistrial.

It marked the second mistrial for Dunn after a proceeding that began last April also ended in a hung jury. Dunn is accused of killing Nona Dirksmeyer, the 19-year-old Arkansas Tech student who was fatally beaten in her Russellville apartment.

Special prosecutor H.G. Foster said afterward that the state will hold another trial.

Dunn shook hands with his attorneys but said nothing as he was led from the courthouse into an Arkansas State Police squad car.

Family members cited a gag order in the case as they declined comment.

The jury spent three hours Thursday and about 11 hours Friday discussing the case before sending a note to Pearson saying they were deadlocked 8-4. Pearson briefly questioned the foreman, who said the group had gone through all the evidence and all the witnesses, before declaring the mistrial.

Defense attorneys for Dunn worked throughout the two-and-a-half week trial to convince the jury the real killer was Kevin Jones, Dirksmeyer's boyfriend who was acquitted of the murder in 2007.


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NoUserName says... January 28, 2011 at 8:47 p.m.

'Special prosecutor H.G. Foster said afterward that the state will hold another trial."

Why? Your incompetence is what sandbagged your case. 3 times. While I always want justice, unless you suddenly find a smoking gun - unlikely and I would wonder if it wasn't manufactured if you did - you will not convict. You have to find Dunn guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. With a second person that could have done it - keeping in mind that you actually brought that second person through to trial & verdict - you will never get beyond reasonable doubt. Frankly, H.G., you're ridiculous. And in my opinion are abusing the law.

With the evidence presented, and regardless of whether Dunn is guilty or not, I could not see how a jury could convict. I'm glad the law won out.

That being said, I'm sorry to Nona's family. They deserve closure. They certainly deserve better than Barney Fife and his merry band of men.

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daisysmom says... January 28, 2011 at 9:33 p.m.

First and foremost the real killer was acquitted, due to the fact that our fine Russellville Police Dept, was so stupid, yes I do say stupid in how they handled the evidence, but being a resident of this county all my life I truly understand, it was not the first at it won't be the last. It is really sad for Nona's family to have to sit time time after time, and listen to the garbage,but unless laws would change that real killer will never be brought to justice. I do believe they are trying to convict an innocent man because it helps to cover up the departments mistakes. I do pray for her family for peace

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SBA1960 says... January 28, 2011 at 10:02 p.m.

Daisy mom
I believe Kevin Jones was acquitted. Two mistrials on Gary Dunn. Barney and the boys should be serving some time for their inept investigation. Whoever the killer is, they will ever serve time because Russellvilles finest completely screwed up the investigation. Her cellphone was given to her dad and he erased the call log. Condom wrappers on the kitchen counter that somehow missed the first trial. Blood evidence botched. The list goes on and on. And yes, a terrible shame for her family and friend that closure won't happen.

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hah406 says... January 28, 2011 at 10:22 p.m.

Russellville PD blew this case from the beginning!!! Regardless of whether the killer is Jones, Dunn, or some third party, there will never be conviction in this case. Our laws and our constitution do not allow the state to repeatedly go after folks when it cannot prove guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt. There are so many shadows over this case it is like Russellville PD has been planting shade trees for years!!! Let it one will ever be convicted in this case!

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outhereagain says... January 28, 2011 at 10:31 p.m.

Ditto, Spunky721. I am just wondering if Mr. Dunn (who will never be found guilty regardless of rather he is or not)will be free to go home or conitnue to be housed in the county jail? I suppose since H.G. can retry and retry and retry and retry again and again until a verdict was reached (which is not goin to happen)all the while holding this man in continuious custody, is that not in essence a prosecutorial imposed sentence which could stretch on year after year. This many has already served two years or more for a crime he will never be convicted of, sounds a bit twisted and unjust to me, I don't know.

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HogJockey says... January 28, 2011 at 11:52 p.m.

Foster was trying to convict Dunn of the crime he already served time for. That and a condom wrapper with a PARTIAL link to Dunn was all they could come up with? How much money has been wasted trying to cover for RPD's chief whose ego was more important than justice? The defesne can go on indefinitely as long as Kevin Jones has more evidence against him than Gary Dunn. Nothing like having the lead detective as your star defense witness!

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ThomasS says... January 29, 2011 at 12:24 a.m.

True, the case was botched. But it should not stop justice from being sought. Dunn should have been at the top of the suspect list; surely his parole officer knew his current address. Investigators knew Gary Dunn; Mark Frost was the investigator for the Bona Dea jogger attack. At some point, common sense has to prevail for justice to be served. Dunn lied from the beginning, with his long list of alibis and then no alibi at all. He knew exactly where he was the morning of December 15, 2005; inside Nona Dirksmeyer's apartment. Twelve jurors found kevin Jones "Not Guilty". Twenty-four jurors couldn't do the same for Gary Dunn...and his violence against women cannot, and should not, be denied.

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August says... January 29, 2011 at 12:51 a.m.

That's O.K. Release him, so he can go out and do it again. You have just made him a little more clever,by teaching him about the process and how to hide clues. You won't get him at all next time. A prosecutor should have a case nailed down, before even thinking about trying it. If justice is ever served, it will be because some woman down the road will be smart enough to have a gun.

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NoUserName says... January 29, 2011 at 12:57 a.m.

And 12 jurors have many times sent innocent men to jail. So, it doesn't much matter if 12 jurors found Jones not guilty and 24 cannot agree on Dunn. Jurors can be wrong.

While I'm not saying that Dunn is innocent, you can't just pick justice out of a hat because it feels right. The evidence was not there. You want to convict? Get better evidence.

He was inside her apartment 12-15-05? Where is the evidence of that? Fingerprints? Hair? Witness? Where is that evidence? Right. You don't have it.

You can't place him in the apartment that day. I don't think you can place him in that apartment at all - I think the condom wrapper is ultra-weak evidence & I think the ex-wife is a liar (considering the doctor's rebuttal of the hysterectomy testimony).

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JRS says... January 29, 2011 at 1:11 p.m.

So Barney Fife is the Russelville police chief, then that must make the prosecutor Floyd from the barber shop? Or maybe Otis. No evidence, leave the man alone.

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