Hung jury ends Frisco murder trial with no verdict | SummitDaily.com

Hung jury ends Frisco murder trial with no verdict

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

Deadlocked on multiple charges, a hung jury ended Charles Sattler's trial on Thursday. The jury was unable to come to a unanimous verdict on any of the charges, including second-degree murder, first-degree assault and manslaughter, before Fifth Judicial District Judge Karen Romeo declared a mistrial.

"I think everybody has been exemplary," Romeo said. "This has been a very trying case."

Around 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, Romeo asked each individual juror if they were able to come up with a unanimous verdict. Each responded "no" in turn, leading Romeo to dismiss the jury, shocking members of the gallery.

Just an hour later, the court reconvened after questioning jurors after they were dismissed, with the possibility of a verdict. However, each juror once again verified that there was no agreement on any of the charges.

"It could just be one person. That's all it takes," said deputy district attorney Rusty Prindle.

Court officials reported that the disagreement was between more than one person, with no individual charge posing more of a challenge than others. On Wednesday, the jury's forewoman reported that, while the jury had made some progress, "there are some people who feel they will not change their mind, no matter what."

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The jury had been deliberating for nearly three days before they were dismissed on Thursday. They posed several questions throughout the week and listened a second time to recorded interviews and phone calls of Sattler speaking with detectives and family.

Thursday morning, the judge clarified that they did not need to have the same verdict in all counts but merely unanimity in each individual charge. Romeo brought them in for a second question that afternoon, clarifying that former Incline Bar & Grill chef Blake Bostic was the only presumed victim of the case, after he died on April 14, 2014, following a fight at the Snowshoe Motel.

Bostic's family had high hopes that morning for seeing a verdict, as the jury reported further progress after Romeo provided them with legal instructions to prompt jurors to reexamine the case and work toward a verdict.

"It was a long week and a half, and I know how hard you worked and how diligent you were," Romeo addressed the jurors.

Sattler has been in jail for 428 days leading up to the trial, according to public defender Thea Reiff. A retrial must be set within 90 days.

Family Forever

Throughout the trial, Bostic's family wore white rubber wristbands that read, "Frisco family forever." Before the mistrial was declared, all sat in the gallery, heads bowed. Sattler's family sat on the opposite side, with a similar gravity in that suspenseful moment.

Ruth Yeager, Bostic's mother, bore the wooden turtle necklace that he always wore, including at the time of his death. She revealed the chain where the necklace was cut, saying, "This is where the coroner cut it…. So I didn't undo his knot."

After the mistrial was announced, Bostic's family gathered outside of the courtroom, sharing several hugs and tears.

"It's not OK… but, it has to be," they comforted his sister. The family will return to Texas this week.

Several of Bostic's friends appeared throughout the course of the trial. A chef who worked with him at the Solitude Grill in Copper remembered the "wild hors d'oeuvres" Bostic would make when he hosted dinners and poker parties.

"I loved Blake like a brother. He was the oldest friend I ever had," another wrote on Bostic's Facebook following the mistrial.

Bostic was a chef at the Incline Bar & Grill before he died the morning of April 14, 2014, following an alleged fight at the Snowshoe Motel in Frisco. Accounts of the incident varied from witness to witness, with Bostic's friend, Ryan Stevens, claiming he never saw Bostic throw a punch, while Sattler's friend, Charles Upchurch, claimed that he never saw Sattler fight.

According to Sattler's account, he intervened in a fight that started between Bostic and Upchurch related to a jar of habanero hot sauce they had bought from Bostic earlier that night. He claimed he stepped in after Upchurch had been punched in the face three times, with the intention of defending his friend and getting Bostic and Upchurch outside of his motel room. But two anonymous witnesses who were staying next door the Snowshoe Motel that night said they saw Bostic laying outside on the ground, unresponsive, while Sattler stood over him, punching him in the face and neck.

Both Upchurch and Stevens showed bruising and cuts to their faces, while Sattler's sole injury was a bleeding knuckle on his right hand. Bostic died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to a forensic pathologist, with hemorrhaging in several areas.

The court will reconvene Monday at 11:30 a.m. to set a date for a retrial that will take place in the next 90 days. Romeo estimated that the second trial will last between 9 and 10 days.