HOUSTON (AP) A judge declared a mistrial Friday in the case of a former Texas Southern University president after a jury said it couldn't decide if she misspent school funds to lavishly decorate her homes.
The jury deliberated for four days in the trial of Priscilla Slade before telling state District Judge Brock Thomas in a note that "to continue deliberating would be of no benefit." The jurors had told Thomas in three previous notes that they were deadlocked.
"We have agonized over this," jurors said in their final note. "We have re-examined the evidence, some parts over and over, some parts line by line, in more detail than we ever expected or cared to, to thoroughly fulfill our duty. However, we cannot arrive at a unanimous verdict without doing violence to our consciences."
Slade was president of TSU, the state's largest historically black university, for more than six years. Prosecutors accuse Slade of misspending more than $138,000 in TSU funds on landscaping for her homes, more than $100,000 in furniture and other home decorations and about $60,000 on a high-tech security system. They say she also illegally used school funds to pay for bar tabs, manicures, spa treatments and exercise classes.
Defense attorney Mike DeGeurin says all his client's spending was done to improve the school's status and recruit donors. He accused prosecutors of making her a scapegoat for TSU's problems.