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Mistrial declared in case of lawmaker's kidnapped son

The trial of a man accused of kidnapping the son of State Rep. John Myer ended in a mistrial yesterday after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

The trial of a man accused of kidnapping the son of State Rep. John Myer ended in a mistrial yesterday after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Kenneth Tuck, 34, is accused of kidnapping Shamari Taylor, 26, as well as Caren Murphy, 22, on Aug. 26, 2006, in West Philadelphia.

In declaring a mistrial, Common Pleas Court Judge John J. Poserina Jr. read a note from the jury of seven women and five men, saying: "We are still stuck and going nowhere."

Poserina denied a request for bail, noting that Taylor has not been seen since the kidnapping and that others involved in the crime remained at large.

Assistant District Attorney Gonen Haklay expressed disappointment with the mistrial, but said he was looking forward to prosecuting the case again. Haklay said that a retrial must be scheduled within 120 days and that he would be the prosecutor.

"I would rather have a guilty verdict than a hung jury," Haklay said. "I think the evidence went in well. We will present it to another jury."

Myers, who represents parts of Philadelphia's Germantown and Mount Airy sections, was unavailable for comment yesterday. A spokesman said Myers was disappointed with the outcome of the trial.

The case hinged on testimony of Murphy, who told the court that she knew Tuck because, six years earlier, when she was 15, the two had had a sexual relationship for three months.

Murphy testified that she recognized Tuck as one of a gang of abductors and that while she was blindfolded she recognized his voice.

She had testified that on the night of the kidnapping, Taylor was either making a large delivery or buying cocaine and that the kidnappers wanted his drugs or money.

Murphy initially told police that her kidnappers wore masks. Under further questioning, she identified Tuck as one of two men who wore badges and drove a van with a flashing blue light on the dashboard. Murphy testified that she was blindfolded during the kidnapping and that she heard Taylor screaming and pleading for his life.

She told police she was released the next morning at a gas station in the city's Strawberry Mansion section.

Tuck's lawyer, Christopher Warren, said he was encouraged by the jury's inability to reach a verdict.

"This is reassuring going into the next trial," Warren said. "I prefer this outcome to a conviction. It's the second best verdict you can get."

Warren said jurors indicated that eight of the 12 were leaning toward acquittal. Warren added that he was disappointed that bail was denied.

Taylor's grandmother, Kathryn Gaines, said she and her family were dismayed that the jury was deadlocked.

"I'm very sorry they weren't able to reach a verdict," Gaines said. "Hopefully, next time they will convict him."

Speaking of her family, Gaines said: "We still don't have closure."