A juror who became emotionally upset, "hyperventilating, popping pills," was dismissed Wednesday from the panel that is deciding whether Daniel Dougherty set the fire that killed his two young sons in 1985.
The juror told the others they were "going to cause her to have a nervous breakdown," the jury said in a note to the judge.
A second note said, "We are at a stalemate on the charge of arson."
Both missives were sent to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge J. Scott O'Keefe late Tuesday, and revealed in court Wednesday.
O'Keefe instructed the jury to halt its discussions while an alternate juror was recalled. When she arrived, the judge again informed the jurors of the relevant law, and sent them to begin deliberations anew.
Attorneys on both sides declined to comment on the juror's dismissal. The jury said on Tuesday that it was deadlocked - but continued talking at the judge's instruction.
The juror's dismissal was another drama in a case that has gone on 31 years, since the August night that 3-year-old John and 4-year-old Daniel Jr. died in their Oxford Circle home.
Dougherty, 56, who was sentenced to death for arson and murder in 2000, is being retried after serving 16 years in state prison. He insists he is innocent, the victim of a bungled fire investigation that found arson where, as a defense expert testified, the cause was impossible to determine.
His case is being closely watched by legal experts and defense groups who say the use of old, outdated fire science has put innocent people in jail.
Prosecutors say the arson finding was correct. Burn patterns showed the fire was set in three places - a sofa, a love seat, and under a dining-room table, they say.
The troubled juror was identified in court only as Juror No. 3. When she was interviewed before being seated, she said she was a 65-year-old retiree, living in Northeast Philadelphia, who had twice served on juries - both times on murder cases. Asked if she or a family member had ever faced criminal charges, she said her son had been charged with driving under the influence.
On Wednesday, the juror and jury foreman were separately called to meet with the judge, prosecutor Jude Conroy, and defense lawyers David Fryman and Shannon Farmer.
Juror No. 3 said she was taking Lorazepam - a sedative often prescribed to treat anxiety. She seemed "giddy," and made remarks about the prosecutor, the judge said in court.
The foreman told the judge that during deliberations the juror would lay her head on a table, not participating, then jump up and pace the room. He said he and the other jurors believed she was emotionally unable to go on.
The judge said in court that the juror had been untruthful in describing her son's legal troubles. In fact, he faces robbery charges in two cases, the judge said.
The juror's replacement is also a Northeast Philadelphia woman, whose sister is a city police officer.
Wednesday marked the fifth day of jury deliberations and the 13th day of the retrial.
The jury will be off Thursday, due to a juror's personal issue, and is to return for a sixth day of deliberations Friday.
Dougherty's death sentence was reduced to a life sentence in 2012. The retrial came when an appeals court ruled that his original trial lawyer's failings were so egregious that no reliable finding of guilt or innocence occurred.