Jury Deadlocks in Case of 84-Year-Old Woman Pushed to Her Death

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CITY NEWS SERVICE

Jurors deadlocked Monday in the trial of a woman charged with second-degree murder for allegedly pushing an 84-year-old woman off a Metro Gold Line platform without provocation.

Betty Sugiyama

The panel deadlocked 9-3 in favor of convicting Jackkqueline Pogue, 46, of the charge stemming from the Nov. 14, 2010, death of Betty Sugiyama, prompting Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jose I. Sandoval to declare a mistrial.

Sugiyama and her 86-year-old sister were walking on the platform at 200 N. Alameda St. on a Sunday morning when Pogue allegedly stood up and pushed the victim from the platform onto the tracks. She hit her head and never regained consciousness.

Witnesses said the attack appeared to be unprovoked.

A lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter could not be considered without a consensus of not guilty on the murder count, according to Deputy District Attorney Louis Avila, who prosecuted the case.

Outside the courtroom, some of the jurors said their disagreement centered on whether Pogue acted deliberately, in conscious disregard for life, and whether she fully understood the consequences of her actions.

Two experts — one for the prosecution and one for the defense — were called to testify during the trial as to Pogue’s sanity and presented opposite conclusions, Avila said.

The prosecutor acknowledged that the defendant had mental health issues, but argued that she was conscious of what she was doing when she pushed Sugiyama off the platform.

But it was ultimately up to the jury, not mental health professionals, to determine what was going on inside Pogue’s head.

“It’s the kind of thing that people just get a gut feel for,” Avila said. “(The decision) is not necessarily factually based.”

The jury voted 9-3 twice, with the same jurors remaining unconvinced that Pogue’s mental state met the standard for a second-degree murder charge.

Pogue remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail while awaiting a retrial. She is due back in court Jan. 17.

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