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CA- Mistrial declared in bid for molester's freedom

2-7-2008 California:

An Orange County jury deadlocked Wednesday on whether an aging pedophile who admitted he molested 10 boys should be released from a state mental facility. It was the second time a jury had failed to reach a decision in the case.

Sid Landau, wearing a hearing aid, showed little reaction as jurors reported that they were at an impasse after 3 1/2 days of deliberations, leaning 8 to 4 in favor of the petition by prosecutors to keep him hospitalized because he remained a danger to society.

Judge Richard M. King declared a mistrial and ordered a hearing Friday on whether Landau should face a third trial. The 68-year-old's first trial, in June 2006, ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of setting him free.

After court adjourned Wednesday, Deputy Dist. Atty. Amy Pope said she believed "unequivocally" that Landau remained a danger but declined to say whether her office would retry the case.

Landau's attorney, Leonard Levine, said, "We believe 12 people may never agree unanimously on a verdict."

Landau has been hospitalized at state mental facilities for nearly eight years while prosecutors have pursued a petition under the state's Sexually Violent Predator Statute, which allows offenders deemed a continual threat to remain in state custody after their prison sentences are completed.

In the 1990s, police, armed with the newly enacted Megan's Law, distributed fliers to his Placentia neighbors identifying him as a sex offender. He had served two years in prison for molesting a 10-year-old boy and eight for molesting an 8-year-old boy. He admitted molesting eight other boys.
Chased from his home by death threats and protests, Landau moved from one Orange County motel to the next until he was jailed for parole violations, first in 1997 for striking a TV photographer and then again a year later after authorities found family photographs of him with his young grandnephews in his room. A condition of his parole was to avoid children.
Over the years, the debate about whether Landau should be released has been delayed by the replacement of attorneys on both sides. He has undergone bypass surgery and wears a pacemaker.

During the trial, the government cast him as an athletically fit man who walks three hours a day for at least 10 miles. Two victims and experts were among the witnesses who sought to show that Landau is incurable and has no boundaries when it comes to children.

The defense team countered with its own experts and research in an attempt to show that age has curtailed Landau's sexual appetites and that prostate cancer and other illnesses have made it unlikely he could act on any urges.

As in the first trial, Landau's sister-in-law testified that Landau could live with her and her husband in Queens, N.Y., where he would be closely supervised.

The jury indicated they were first deadlocked at 7 to 5 in favor of the petition.

Mark DeLuca, 50, said he was the juror who changed his mind, initially leaning against the petition because he believed research that showed a decreased likelihood of Landau's re-offending as he aged. DeLuca said he eventually concluded those studies were outweighed by factors including Landau's mental condition and the high number of victims.

"If sparked, I think he could ignite again," DeLuca said. "I wouldn't want to see this happen to another child."

One of the four jurors who voted against the petition said he believed Landau's age and illnesses made it unlikely that Landau was still a danger, and that "everything the prosecutors brought up were things he did way in the past."

Although they were "terrible things," Landau is a "changed man," said the juror, a 49-year-old Fullerton resident who asked not to be named. ..more.. by Christine Hanley, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

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