Mistrial in Conspiracy, Obstruction Case Against LA County Deputy

The deputy was accused of working with colleagues to hide an inmate, who was working as an FBI informer, from federal agents

A mistrial was declared Thursday in the case of a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputy accused of obstructing a federal investigation into his colleagues' alleged abuse of jail inmates.

The judge declared the mistrial a day after jurors indicated they could not reach a verdict in the case of James Sexton, charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He faced up to 15 years in prison, if convicted.

Jurors gave the judge a note after less than a day of deliberations that said they "cannot" and "will not" reach a verdict, City News Service reported. Sexton's attorney immediately called for a mistrial.

The jury was asked to consider whether Sexton tried to impede justice by using the jail's computer system to alter identifying characteristics of an inmate working as an FBI informer. Sexton and other deputies hid the jail inmate from federal agents who wanted to interview him, according to prosecutors.

The jury split, 6-6, according to KPCC.

The case is the first of seven involving current and former members of the LA County Sheriff's Department accused of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Authorities arrested 18 people in connection with the misconduct investigation in December 2013.

Trial for the other defendants began Wednesday with jury selection.

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