Mistrial declared for ex-Idaho politician charged with 1984 murder of Colorado girl

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Steven Pankey, a erstwhile two-time campaigner for politician of Idaho, who has been charged with the abduction and execution of a Colorado miss who vanished successful 1984, is seen successful this undated mugshot released by the Weld County District Attorney's Office. Weld County District Attorney/Handout via REUTERS.

DENVER, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Jurors deadlocked and a mistrial was declared connected Thursday successful the kidnapping-murder lawsuit against a two-time Idaho gubernatorial campaigner charged successful the 1984 slaying of a 12-year-old Colorado miss whose remains were unearthed implicit 3 decades later.

The 12-member assemblage recovered Steven Pankey, 70, blameworthy connected 1 number of mendacious reporting to authorities but failed to scope a unanimous verdict connected charges helium abducted and murdered Jonelle Matthews, starring the justice to disregard astir of the prosecution's case, tribunal officials said.

Weld County Judge Timothy Kerns acceptable a presumption proceeding for adjacent Monday to code the imaginable re-filing of kidnapping and execution charges, successful summation to enslaved and sentencing connected the mendacious reporting count.

The hung jury, which began its deliberations astatine midday connected Tuesday, capped a three-week proceedings stemming from Matthews' death.

The miss vanished successful December 1984 from her Greeley, Colorado, home, astir 50 miles (80 km) northbound of Denver, wherever she was dropped by disconnected by a household person aft singing astatine a Christmas concert.

Her disappearance remained a enigma for much than 34 years until 2019, erstwhile an excavation unit moving connected a pipeline successful agrarian Weld County uncovered quality remains, which were aboriginal identified arsenic those of Matthews.

She died from a gunshot coiled to the head, authorities said.

Pankey surfaced arsenic a idiosyncratic of involvement successful the acold lawsuit erstwhile helium would periodically insert himself into the probe by making "incriminating" statements to assorted people, constabulary said. He was indicted successful 2020 and transferred backmost to Colorado.

Prosecutors lacked carnal grounds linking Pankey to the killing, but alleged that Pankey, who lived successful Greeley astatine the clip of the girl's disappearance, possessed cognition of the transgression that lone the slayer would know.

One specified tidbit was the usage of a rake by the slayer to screen up footwear prints near successful the snowfall astatine the transgression scene, according to the indictment.

Pankey testified that helium did not termination the girl, and said helium made up accusation successful an effort "to beryllium a large antheral successful the case."

Pankey unsuccessfully ran for Idaho politician connected the Constitution Party summons successful 2014, and mislaid a 2nd gubernatorial bid successful the 2018 Republican primaries.

Reporting by Keith Coffman successful Denver; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney and Daniel Wallis

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