The trial of a Riverside man accused of killing a San Bernardino hiphop artist and dumping his body near Barstow will start over, after jurors in the case failed to reach a consensus.
After seven days of deliberations and multiple votes, the proceedings against Dudzai Prosper Pswatai, 21, ended in a mistrial, juror Sidni Conway said. Ten of the jurors, including Conway, were convinced of Pswatai's guilt, but the other two did not believe there was enough evidence to convict him, she said.
Pswatai faces charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery and solicitation to commit murder in the June 2008 killing of Robert Mastrangelo, 24. Two other defendants in the case, Jeffrey "Slutter" Berrouet, 23, and Celina Sanchez, 20, took plea bargains and testified against Pswatai in court. Berrouet was convicted of murder and Sanchez pleaded guilty to kidnapping in the case.
Conway said the two hold-out jurors believed there was not enough evidence to place Pswatai at the alleged scene of the crime, Sanchez's Riverside-area home, where Berrouet also stayed. The prosecution argued that after luring Mastrangelo to the house with promises of a drug deal, Pswatai and Berrouet, assisted by Sanchez, robbed him and held him captive in the garage, then shot him and dumped his body near Outlet Center Drive.
Pswatai testified in court that when he previously made self-incriminating statements to detectives, he was lying at the bidding of higher-ups in his gang, the Southside Maniac Mob. Conway said the dissenting jurors believed that Pswatai had been chosen by "shot callers" in the gang to take the fall for other people who actually committed the crime.
Conway said she and the other nine jurors, however, were convinced of Pswatai's guilt by evidence including a letter of apology Pswatai wrote to Mastrangelo's family, in which he admitted to holding the victim down and tying him up; statements he made in recorded jail phone calls; and testimony from Sanchez' roommate that placed Pswatai at the scene of the crime.
"I feel horrible," she said Saturday. "I feel like we let (Mastrangelo's) family down."
Defense attorney Troy Padgett and Deputy District Attorney Shannon Faherty could not be reached Saturday.
Pswatai's trial had already started over once, in December, after the prosecution requested more time to collect evidence. According to county jail records, Pswatai remained in custody at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga Saturday, with a hearing scheduled for May 1.
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