Mistrial declared for Raynella Leath in 2nd husband's shooting

Mistrial declared for Raynella Leath in 2nd husband's shooting

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As she left the courtroom Thursday morning Raynella Dossett Leath said, "Finally, his soul can rest." As she left the courtroom Thursday morning Raynella Dossett Leath said, "Finally, his soul can rest."

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- After jurors in the Raynella Dossett Leath trial said for a second time they were deadlocked, Judge Richard Baumgartner declared a mistrial Thursday morning.

Prosecutor Richard Fisher says the state will pursue a re-trial against the woman dubbed the "Black Widow."

The mistrial came after jury had deliberated a little more than 12 hours over three days.

Eight men and four women were on the jury, including a student, a nurse, a salesperson and an EMT.

"Sometimes you're not able to come to a unanimous verdict. It doesn't mean you didn't do your job," Judge Baumgartner told them.

Two women who also attended the trial were chosen by the judge as alternates, but they never took part in the deliberations.

Raynella is accused of shooting her second husband, retired barber David Leath, in the head at their home on March 13, 2003.

As she left the courtroom Thursday morning with her two daughters, Raynella said, "Finally, his soul can rest."

She was charged with first degree murder. A conviction could have earned Raynella a sentence of life in prison.

After the mistrial was declared, David's daughter, Cindy Wilkerson, said, "I think my father would be proud of me to get this far. He deserves this. I hope that there will be closure one day."

The prosecution argued that Raynella, a nurse, drugged David, shot him and staged it to look like a suicide due to a dispute over their Solway estate, worth millions.

Three bullets were found at the scene and Knox County sheriff's investigators ruled David's death a homicide shortly after beginning their investigation.

However, defense attorney Jim Bell argued that no evidence directly connected Raynella to the shooting. No blood was found on her clothes and there were no witnesses.

The jury foreman told Judge Baumgartner Wednesday afternoon when jurors first reported they were deadlocked that they had a "philosophical difference" over circumstantial evidence vs. a "smoking gun."

Earlier Thursday morning, around 9:30 a.m., the defense entered a motion asking Judge Baumgartner to declare a mistrial, saying the jury was being pressured to come to a decision.

Bell pointed the finger at the jury foreman, saying he made statements Wednesday that interfered with Raynella getting a fair trial.

Bell said the foreman's statements seemed like some of the jurors were being pressured in a "mob" way.

Judge Baumgartner denied that mistrial request.

Raynella has also been charged with murder in the 1992 death of her first husband, former Knox County prosecutor Ed Dossett. Those charges will be prosecuted separately.

Dossett's death was initially attributed to being trampled by cattle. However, prosecutors said an autopsy suggested he had enough morphine in him to kill him.

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