A judge declared a hung jury after jurors said they reached a stalemate Tuesday in deciding the fate of a former Ralston teacher accused of groping four students.
Jurors deliberated for 15 hours without coming to a consensus on the guilt or innocence of former Ralston elementary teacher Nicholas Richter.
Douglas County District Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf declared a mistrial -- and excused the jury of three men and nine women.
Their indecision means prosecutors must decide whether to re-try Richter -- a process that would mean the boys would have to take the stand again.
Four boys -- all honors students, ages 10 to 12 -- took the stand and accused Richter of groping. Two testified he touched their penises more than 10 times over the course of two school years.
One boy said he touched his penis one time each in second, third and fourth grade. A fourth boy described Richter repeatedly rubbing his buttocks.
Prosecutors attempted to buttress their testimony with the testimony of a 40-year-old man who said that Richter groped his buttocks while he was a fifth grader at a Council Bluffs elementary school in the early 1980s.
However, the state's case wasn't without problems. A Ralston police officer failed to record his interview with Richter. And Richter's defense attorney, Joe Howard, argued that that police officer poisoned the boys by suggesting to their parents that the boys had been molested.
Howard also argued that media attention to the case may have influenced the boys. Prosecutors countered that the boys had come forward before most of the media reports.
Richter had faced up to five years in prison on each count.