WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A judge declared a mistrial Friday after a jury deadlocked in the trial of a suburban jeweler accused of killing his wife and incinerating her body in an oil drum to leave no trace.
"We are convinced that we are hopelessly deadlocked," Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli read from a note sent by the jury considering Werner Lippe's fate.
Lippe, 68, had confessed three times to police and a friend to killing his wife, Faith, 49, in 2008 and burning her body. But he later recanted, and Faith Lippe's body was never found.
Jurors had sent out a note Thursday saying they were unable to reach a verdict, and the judge sent them back to reconsider. Prosecutors, who said they were prepared to retry Lippe, asked Zambelli on Friday to ask the jury to keep deliberating.
"I don't know what else I can say," Zambelli said. "I'm going to declare a mistrial."
Lippe's family and friends wept in the White Plains courtroom after a mistrial was declared. Lippe showed no obvious reaction.
Jurors deliberated four days after a three-week trial that featured some grisly testimony, including Lippe's recorded confessions to police and to a friend.
"I hit her in the head with a piece of wood," Lippe said on one tape. "I dumped her in the barrel and burned her."
Lippe, of Cortlandt, also testified at trial that he learned how bodies are incinerated when he questioned a mortician about his mother's cremation. He said he asked: "By the way, how do you burn people?"
Lippe has said the confessions were concocted to get authorities off his back until he could make a case to a judge.
The prosecution had no forensic evidence. Faith's body was never found and no trace of her or her DNA was detected around the Lippes' suburban home.