Mistrial Declared in 50-Year-Old Cold Case of Special Sheriff’s Deputy’s Murder: Jury Deadlocked

ROCKVILLE, Maryland – A mistrial was declared on Wednesday evening in the case of a 1971 killing of a special sheriff’s deputy, as the jury remained deadlocked after more than two days of deliberation. The trial involved the alleged murder of Montgomery County Deputy James Tappen Hall.

According to an anonymous juror, several individuals on the jury did not believe that the state had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. One or two jurors were reportedly convinced that they could never convict 71-year-old Larry David Smith in the death of Deputy Hall.

Hall’s daughter, Carolyn Philo, expressed her determination to continue seeking justice, asserting, “This is not over yet. We will be back.”

The 1971 killing of Deputy Hall had remained unsolved for over 50 years until two cold case detectives reopened the investigation. Smith was subsequently arrested at his New York home after a taped interview he had given to the police in 1973 was discovered.

Prosecutors claimed that Smith confessed to the crime during questioning by the detectives in September 2022. However, defense attorneys argued that the confession should be disregarded, alleging that it was tainted by the investigators who closed the case.

During the trial, the jury watched a videotaped interview with Smith from September 2022, prior to his arrest. In the interview, Smith denied having the intent to shoot anyone, suggesting that the shooting may have been accidental.

Kevin Collins, Smith’s defense attorney, maintained that there was no valid confession, contending that Smith had no memory of the events in 1971 and was merely repeating details fed to him by the detectives.

Despite hearing Smith admit on tape that he shot her father, Philo expressed her disbelief in the jury’s failure to reach a guilty verdict. The Montgomery County State’s Attorney, John McCarthy, acknowledged that this was not the first time the county had encountered a hung jury and committed to retrying the case in pursuit of justice for the family.

The mistrial in the 1971 killing of Deputy Hall leaves the case unresolved, prolonging the quest for closure and accountability. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of the evidence and the impact of a confession obtained decades after the crime occurred. As legal proceedings continue, both sides will work to solidify their positions and present a stronger case in the retrial, ensuring that no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of justice for Deputy Hall and his family.