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By GRAHAM BRINK
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000
TAMPA -- Six months ago, a jury could not decide whether to convict Franklin Smith of first-degree murder, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial.
This time around, a new 12-person jury had an answer.
That was the result of a weeklong trial and about seven hours of jury deliberations Tuesday. Smith, who faced the death penalty if convicted, was free to go back to Ruskin to live with his family. He had spent eight months in jail awaiting his trial.
In May, a jury deadlocked 6-6 on whether Smith, 54, was guilty of killing Eileen Mangold. The new jury examined much of the same evidence, including controversial DNA evidence that prosecutors say Smith left at the crime scene. It was the DNA evidence that the previous jurors had difficulty accepting.
Mangold, 50, was working an evening shift in September 1989 as a cashier at the now-defunct Kangaroo Fuel Stop on U.S. 301. Witnesses saw a man force her into her station wagon and drive off with her in the passenger seat, although they gave differing descriptions of the man, according to sheriff's reports. Her car was discovered five hours later at Krycul Avenue in Riverview. Her body was found eight hours later.
Investigators found fingerprints on the car but could not link them to anyone. Last year, a fingerprint expert ran some of the prints again and came up with a hit. A partial print taken from the hood of the car matched Smith, who had been arrested in unrelated cases before the killing.
Investigators questioned Smith, who told them he never knew Mangold and never had sex with her. When asked, he provided a blood sample. Authorities arrested Smith in December after DNA tests came back as a match to the semen found on Mangold's blouse.
In May, as they did this time around, Smith's attorneys, assistant public defenders Lyann Goudie and Gerod Hooper, attacked the DNA findings, disputing the trillion-to-one odds that the semen belonged only to Smith. They brought a British case in which a suspect was arrested on the strength of DNA evidence only to be freed later after further tests showed he could not have committed the crime.