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Escape Case In Hands Of Jury

Jurors failed to reach a verdict in their first day of deliberations in a jail escape case.

Former jailer Anita Vestal is on trial accused of helping murder suspect Jeffery Miles, escape from the Swain County jail in March 2009.

Tuesday jurors asked to see a video of Vestal's interrogation in California.  She had traveled there with Miles who was charged with killing Scott Wiggins and Michael Compton in August 2008.

A key factor to the jury was did Vestal know Miles was charged with those two murders.

Prosecutors argue she did and the video proves it.

The video shows Vestal talking to her father saying "I just went crazy" and to her husband asking if he still loved her.

Six defendants faced charges over the years in connection with the double murder. Miles is in prison for life with no parole. Four others are behind bars as well.  The 6th defendant committed suicide before trial.

Vestal faces escape, obstruction, and accessory after the fact of murder charges.

The Wiggins family has followed each case.

"Very tiring. Very stressful," says Scott Wiggins sister Diane Wiggins.  She adds, I mean we've had something every year for five years with all the defendants.

After five years of trials, residents are weary too and sympathetic to the victims families.

Barbara Fortner says, I think the whole town and the county needs to come together and get over this and help the Wiggins family as much as they can.

Its a similar feeling for Diane Wiggins. We're all still stressed and just wanting to get to the end of it.

At the end of the first day of deliberations, jurors asked the judge for clarification over the definitions of felony murder, and reasonable doubt.  They also are asking if they must come to a unanimous verdict on all charges, or whether they can be separated.  The judge will follow up on that instruction when the jury reconvenes at 9:30 Wednesday morning.

By Rex Hodge
Follow Rex on Twitter @RexHodgeWLOS


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