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Jury deadlocks; judge declares mistrial in Phillip murder case for killing Frankel

A jury deadlocked Wednesday, Dec. 18, about whether William Phillip, above, killed Seth Frankel, so Judge Andrea Darvas declared a mistrial. - Kent Reporter, file photo
A jury deadlocked Wednesday, Dec. 18, about whether William Phillip, above, killed Seth Frankel, so Judge Andrea Darvas declared a mistrial.
— image credit: Kent Reporter, file photo

The jury was deadlocked so King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas declared a mistrial Wednesday in the first-degree murder case against William L. Phillip Jr., for the 2010 stabbing death of Seth Frankel, a city of Kent employee.

The jury was deadlocked at around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday after going into deliberations Tuesday afternoon, according to the court bailiff.

A review hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20 in front of Darvas to determine when and if Phillip will be retried.

A 12-member jury considered whether Phillip stabbed Frankel to death on May 21, 2010 in Frankel's Auburn home he shared with Bonny Johnson, a woman each man loved.

Closing arguments in front of the jury were Tuesday morning by Senior Deputy Prosecutor Wyman Yip and defense attorney Anuradha Luthra. The trial lasted six weeks.

Yip portrayed Phillip, 33, of Portland, Ore., as a man who wanted to return to a romantic relationship with Johnson and went so far as to kill Frankel in an effort to get back together with her. Yip said the evidence of a towel found near the murder scene with the DNA of Phillips, cellphone records and text messages prove Phillip committed the crime.

Luthra told the jury that the state was "trying to put a square peg in a round hole," by blaming Phillip for the murder.

"Not a single witness can put Mr. Phillip in Mr. Frankel's house on the night Mr. Frankel was killed," Luthra said. "Not a single witness can tell you that Mr. Phillip knew where Mr. Frankel lived or worked or even knew his last name. Not a single witness can give you a reason why Mr. Phillip would kill Mr. Frankel."

Luthra said the state charged "the wrong person," simply because Phillip couldn't be excluded from being in Auburn the night Frankel was killed. She said Auburn Police failed to investigate other people who might have committed the murder.

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