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Jury stuck in deadlock while deciding fate of accused rapist

After more than 14 hours of deliberation, an Athens County jury has yet to come to a decision in Thomas Shifflet’s rape and child molestation case.

Shifflet is on trial in the Athens County Court of Common Pleas for three counts of gross sexual imposition, one count of rape and one count of sexual imposition.

Shifflet allegedly molested a 13-year-old at Jody’s Country Collectibles in Millfield, a 10-year-old in a car driving through Athens County and a 3- and 8-year-old at two Athens County daycare centers run by his daughters. He also allegedly raped a 4-year-old at one of the daycare centers. All the incidents allegedly took place between November 2010 and June 2011.

The case was given to the jury Friday morning after closing arguments finished Thursday.

The jury issued a statement to the court at about 2:30 p.m.

“We seem to be at a (serious) deadlock,” Judge Michael Ward read from the statement. “We are not going to change minds for guilty or not guilty.”

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn reminded the jury members they must view each of the five charges separately and could find Shifflet guilty of some charges and not guilty of others.

Ward stressed the importance of the jury reaching a decision.

“It is your duty to side the case if you can, continuously,” Ward said.

The jury issued another statement to the court at 4:45 p.m. requesting recess for the evening. Athens County Sheriff deputies escorted the jury members to their cars after they left the courtroom.

The jury will start deliberating at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Shifflet could be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years and two months in prison and a maximum fine of $30,500 if convicted of all charges by the jury, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

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