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HANFORD — The trial of Zachary Gonzalez, the man accused in the slaying of 25-year-old Julio Munoz Gonzalez on June 17, ended Monday with a hung jury.

Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes said the jury informed superior court Judge Donna Tarter around noon that it was hopelessly deadlocked. Fagundes said he did not know how many jurors or which charges stood in the way of a unanimous verdict.

Fagundes said a new trial has been scheduled for Feb. 6, 2017.

Zachary Gonzalez, 21, is charged with murder in the commission of a robbery, robbery and enhancements for using a gun for allegedly shooting Julio Gonzalez 14 to 15 times in a field behind Sierra Liquor, located near 10th Avenue and Cameron Street.

Eyewitnesses testified that Zachary Gonzalez had walked into the field just before gunshots rang out. Katherine Perrine, who has lived in the area all her life, told police she saw Gonzalez running away from the scene after she heard the shots and went to call 911.

Perrine later picked Zachary Gonzalez out of a photo lineup.

Defense attorney Afreen Kaelble brought in experimental psychologist Ralph Haber to describe his studies of eyewitness testimony. Haber's testimony questioned whether the witness could have identified Zachary Gonzalez from a long distance at night.

Other witnesses testified that Julio Gonzalez had been carrying a wallet, cellphone, watch, necklace and other items that were not found at the crime scene. Those details led prosecutors to push for the robbery charges.

Kaelble also pointed to fingerprint and DNA tests conducted on various items collected at the crime scene. None of the items matched Zachary Gonzalez's DNA or fingerprints.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Darby and Assistant District Attorney Nick Schuller argued that the timeline "boxes" Zachary Gonzalez into the crime scene.

This is not the first murder trial to end in a mistrial this year. The trial of Todd Pate, who is accused in the 2013 killing of his wife, Melanie Pate, resulted in a hung jury. One of the 12 jurors felt that the evidence in the case did not support a conviction for first-degree murder.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or meiman@HanfordSentinel.com.

 

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