A mistrial has been declared in the trial of an Irvine attorney accused of helping his wife set up a drug bust in a scheme to seek revenge against a PTA volunteer.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Carla M. Singer declared a mistrial Thursday, the day after jurors reported that they were deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of convicting Kent Easter.
Prosecutors said they haven't decided whether to retry Easter, though a pretrial hearing has been set for Dec. 5.
Kent Easter, 40, is accused of felony false imprisonment for his alleged role in having school volunteer Kelli Peters set up in a phony drug case.
Prosecutors allege that the Easter and his wife were seeking revenge because they felt the volunteer did not bring out their son quickly enough when they came to his grade school to pick him up.
His wife, Jill Bjorkholm Easter, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment charges last month and was ordered to serve 120 days in jail.
Kent Easter's attorney’s portrayed his client as a trusting but weak husband who did whatever his wife told him to do and was duped into calling police to report that the PTA volunteer had drugs in her car.
But prosecutors argued that Kent Easter knew he was making a fake call to police.
Kent Easter was accused of making the false 911 call in February 2011, saying that he saw the PTA volunteer driving erratically and using drugs, with narcotics in her car. Officers later found a bag of marijuana, pills and marijuana pipe in the back seat of Peters' car.
Thomas Bienert told jurors in his closing arguments that Kent Easter made the call at the request of his domineering wife and was unaware that she was lying.
Jill Easter was upset with the after-school volunteer after a 2010 disagreement in which she said Peters did not bring her son out quickly enough when she went to pick him up at Plaza Vista Elementary, prosecutors said.
After the incident, the Easters tried to get Peters fired, obtained a restraining order and filed a lawsuit against the volunteer, prosecutors said. Their efforts to get back at the volunteer came to a head with the fake drug bust, authorities charge.
The Easters' DNA was found on the pills and pipe, and the volunteer was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Adolfo Flores writes for the Los Angeles Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.