Judge declares mistrial in Kelly Ellard case

Judge in Vancouver trial of Kelly Ellard declares mistrial after jurors complain of deadlock

The judge in the second-degree murder trial of Kelly Ellard declared a mistrial Sunday after jurors complained they were deadlocked.

Following almost five days of deliberations, the jury passed a note to the judge saying they were deadlocked.

"All things must come to an end. That time is now," the jury wrote.

Calling the deliberations "extremely difficult and emotionally devastating," the jury said: "We have exhausted all avenues of deliberation. We have reached an impasse that cannot result in a unanimous decision in spite of any further discussion."

Justice Selwyn Romilly said he had no alternative but to declare a mistrial.

Crown counsel must now decide whether to try the 21-year-old Ellard a third time.

"I think someone was thinking with their emotions instead of their head," said Crown lawyer Catherine Murray.

Ellard's lawyer, Robert Claus, said his client was relieved and hoped she wouldn't be tried again.

Earlier Sunday, the defence requested a mistrial, but the judge denied the request.

On Saturday night, the jury announced the deadlock, saying eleven members had come to agreement, and that one member was holding out. It's not known what decision the majority had reached.

After speaking with the judge, the six men and six women decided to sleep on it, and reconvene on Sunday.

It was Ellard's second trial in the 1997 death of 14-year-old Reena Virk.

Virk was lured to a bridge in a Victoria suburb where she was beaten and abandoned by a group of teens.

Prosecutors alleged Ellard, then 15, and a male friend, Warren Glowatski, returned to beat her unconscious, and then drowned her.

Ellard was found guilty at her first trial, but that verdict was overturned on appeal. The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled that Crown counsel improperly cross-examined Ellard and that she didn't get a fair trial.

Glowatski, 23, was convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder for his part in Virk's beating and drowning and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years.

Six people were convicted in 1998 in the assault of Virk. They cannot be named under provisions of young offenders legislation.

Ellard will soon be back in court to face new charges. While she was waiting for her second trial in Virk's death to begin, Ellard was arrested and charged with assaulting a 58-year-old woman.