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Former Log Cabin leader lobbies against Equality Act

Angelo says bill ‘includes no reasonable exemptions for religious liberty’

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Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelois lobbying against the Equality Act on Capitol Hill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As much of Washington was preparing to celebrate Pride last week, a gay activist who formerly headed Log Cabin Republicans took it upon himself to lobby Senate Republicans on legislation seeking to ban anti-LGBT discrimination known as the Equality Act.

But he was lobbying against passage of the bill, not for it.

Gregory Angelo, a gay conservative who has advocated for LGBT rights but has also praised President Trump, said in an interview with the Blade the Equality Act isn’t the right vehicle to achieve long-sought LGBT non-discrimination protections under federal law.

“The Equality Act includes no reasonable exemptions for religious liberty and actually moves the goalposts so far to the left that it runs counter to the types of legislation that gay Republicans have sought for decades, particularly the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” Angelo said.

As it was introduced in Congress and recently approved by the U.S. House under a new Democratic majority, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to clarify discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination.

As such, the Equality Act would institute the same kind of religious exemption for anti-LGBT discrimination as currently is in place for discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and national origin. A pastor wouldn’t be penalized for declining to perform a same-sex wedding, nor would churches be penalized as a public accommodation for refusing to admit LGBT parishioners. 

But it does mean religious affiliated schools would face penalties for refusing to admit LGBT students or terminating the employment of a teacher who entered into a same-sex wedding; Catholic adoption agencies could see their access to federal funds cut for denying child placement into LGBT homes; and Catholic hospitals would be required to perform gender reassignment surgery if they offer similar procedures.

Further, the Equality Act would expand the definition of public accommodations under the Civil Rights Act to include retail stores, services such as banks and legal services, and transportation services. Under the Equality Act, Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop, would face penalties under federal law for his refusal to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

On top of all that, the Equality Act would clarify the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law intended to protect religious minorities, wouldn’t be an excuse to engage in anti-LGBT discrimination.

Angelo said a few years ago during his time at Log Cabin Republicans, former Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who was considered a pro-LGBT Republican, met with the organization to discuss concerns about the narrow religious exemption in the Equality Act and “the many reasons why…the legislation was problematic.” Angelo said he and the board agreed with Dent’s conclusion.

During Angelo’s tenure at Log Cabin Republicans, the organization opposed the Equality Act, calling it a cudgel to beat up vulnerable Republicans instead of a genuine means of advancing LGBT rights. 

Republicans, Log Cabin said, were damned if they supported the bill and damned if they didn’t. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the group pointed out, criticized former Rep. Bob Dold of Illinois when he became one of the few Republicans to co-sponsor the bill.

But there was no real prospect of the Equality Act advancing with Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress. Things have changed now with Democrats in control of the House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made passage of the bill a personal goal and the chamber approved the legislation in May just before Pride month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

With the Equality Act having momentum, Angelo said he perceived no structured opposition from gay conservatives any longer and took it upon himself to take a stand. The first order of businesses was writing an op-ed for the Washington Examiner — a piece he echoed when speaking with the Blade. 

“Throughout my entire career, advocating for LGBT equality, especially during the time that I was advocating among Republicans in the New York State Senate to pass marriage equality in the run up to the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision in 2013, and in the run up to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015, my message and the message of gay conservative advocates around the country was the same: Passage of marriage equality would be no threat to you, your family, not your faith,” Angelo said. “And what the Equality Act does is make liars out of the lot of us.”

Writing this Washington Examiner piece at a time when 30 states have either no or incomplete protections against LGBT discrimination, Angelo said he was resoundingly criticized, even hectored. One social media troll, Angelo said, told him he should kill himself.

But Angelo also said he received some positive response. Subsequently, Angelo took to social media to gather signatures of other gay conservatives for a letter in opposition to the legislation. The list of more than 100 people includes Chad Felix Greene, a writer for the Federalist, former GOProud board chair Chris Barron, and David Lampo, a gay Republican who supported President Trump in the 2016 election.

Angelo then delivered the missive on Friday to a legislative aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The two, Angelo said, had a “very encouraging conversation” in McConnell’s Capitol Hill office.

“At this juncture, I’m not going to talk about personal conversations that I’ve had with Senate leadership, but I will share that I most definitely did not leave that meeting disappointed,” Angelo said.

McConnell’s office didn’t respond to a request to confirm the meeting took place, nor if any commitments were made. A McConnell spokesperson previously said the Equality Act isn’t on the legislative agenda for the Republican-controlled Senate.

Angelo said he was aware he was arguing against LGBT rights during Pride month, a time when the LGBT community seeks to draw attention to the continued absence of federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, but that did “not at all” give him pause.

“It’s something that I’m most definitely aware of, but the Equality Act passed when it passed and went to the Senate when it did, and I wanted to make sure that I respond immediately, and others clearly agreed that that was the right course of action,” Angelo said.

Angelo isn’t the only LGBT person who spoke against the Equality Act. Julia Beck, a lesbian and former member of the Baltimore LGBTQ Commission’s Law & Policy Committee, appeared at a forum hosted by the anti-LGBT Heritage Foundation to speak out against the transgender protections in the Equality Act and was an opposition witness to the legislation during a congressional hearing on the bill. 

As such, many observers speculate the Heritage Foundation is financially backing Beck as well as other members of the LGBT community who have expressed opposition to the LGBT rights measure.

Angelo, however, said he didn’t receive compensation from the Heritage Foundation, nor anyone else, and insisted he was lobbying McConnell on his own as a private citizen.

“I’m not getting paid a dime to do any of this,” Angelo said. “This is just an issue that I have very strong personal beliefs about. It’s clearly an issue that other gay conservatives have very strong personal beliefs about and I’m happy to carry the mantle for it.”

(UPDATE: Greg Scott, a Heritage spokesperson, said via email after publication of this article speculation the Heritage Foundation is financially backing LGBT people to speak out against the Equality Act is “false.” Beck participated in a Heritage panel discussion earlier this year, but Scott said Heritage is “‘financially backing’ her like we are ‘financially backing’ the hundreds of other speakers Heritage hosts every year, which is to say at the ‘zero dollar level.'”)

Meanwhile, LGBT rights advocates are pushing the Equality Act as the measure to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in the United States. Following the successful House vote, they’re trying to hold a test vote in the Senate despite Republican control of the chamber.

David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, noted in response to Angelo’s initiative the widespread public support for LGBT non-discrimination protections.

“Seven in 10 Americans, including majorities of every political party, support the Equality Act, as well as members of Congress from both parties, more than 200 major business and leading civil rights organizations,” Stacy said. “Anyone opposing the Equality Act is clearly taking a stand against the mainstream of America and on the wrong side of history.”

Log Cabin Republicans appears to have relented on the Equality Act since Angelo left the organization. Upon passage of the measure in the House, the organization praised the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats in favor of the bill.

Jerri Ann Henry, current executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, referred to her previous statement on the Equality Act when asked whether the organization supports Angelo’s efforts.

“We are extremely supportive of federal legislation on equality and very thankful for the three Republican members who co-sponsored the House legislation as well as the additional five who voted for it,” Henry said. “We do have some concerns with regard to religious liberty protections and believe there are some improvements that should be made.”

The Equality Act also has one Republican co-sponsor in the Senate: Susan Collins (R-Maine), who’s known as being the most LGBT supportive Republican (despite having voted for the confirmation of U.S. Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh).

Angelo said he wouldn’t criticize Collins for supporting the measure, noting Collins is a Republican, but has a reputation for “marching to the beat of her own drum.” Both Angelo and Collins were recognized for their work in May at the Women’s National Republican Club in New York City.

“It doesn’t come as a surprise to you or anyone that Susan Collins is definitely a unique Republican in the United States Senate,” Angelo said.
Even if these LGBT rights supporters achieve a successful vote on the Equality Act in the Senate through some miraculous means, President Trump — who indicated opposition to the Equality Act via a senior administration official to the Blade — would likely veto the measure.
 
As others are pushing for the Equality Act, Angelo said if he had his way civil rights law against LGBT discrimination would resemble “in very much the same way” the 2013 agreement reached for ENDA, which had a wider religious exemption and during a U.S Senate vote in 2013 garnered support from 10 Republicans in addition to a united Democratic caucus.

“The legislation would include protections for LGBT individuals, but also exemptions for churches, religiously affiliated non-profit organizations and religiously affiliated member organizations,” Angelo said. “That’s it.”
 
Although LGBT rights supporters supported that version of ENDA in 2013, they dropped that support after the nature of the religious exemption became more well known and it became clear the bill would never become law with Republicans in control of the House.

Although Angelo said he believes an ENDA-like compromise measure is forthcoming in Congress, he wouldn’t say more when pressed for details or the lawmakers who would sponsor such legislation. Angelo has hinted on social media about the creation of a new group called Infinite America, but said it’s a non-profit unrelated to the Equality Act.

Angelo also scoffed at the notion LGBT rights supporters have chosen the Equality Act as their vehicle and said hand-wringing about the scope of the religious freedom would ultimately result in no LGBT protections whatsoever.

“The Equality Act has no chance of passing the United States Senate,” Angelo said. “It will be vetoed by President Trump in the very slim chance that it ever does. Who’s being more reasonable here? The guy with the pragmatic approach to passing LGBT legislation that can actually pass and get the president’s signature, or pushing the Equality Act, a pie in the sky bill?”

Yet another branch of government will weigh in on the issue: The U.S. Supreme Court. Justices granted a writ of certiorari to hear cases on whether sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity discrimination amount to sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.

A decision, expected by June 2020, could be a shortcut to LGBT non-discrimination, but with a conservative majority on the court many observers are skeptical justices will reach that conclusion.

Angelo, however, said he doesn’t believe federal law as currently constructed against sex discrimination affords LGBT protections.

“If that was the case, then that would mean that the last 11 years I spent as a volunteer and a lobbyist for advocating for LGBT civil rights was a total waste of time because the entire time that I was doing that, federal law already said it was so,” Angelo said.

In the meantime, Angelo said he continues to plan for a compromise proposal that he says will be a middle way forward.

“The campaign to stop the Equality Act in its tracks also includes proposing legislation that does meet the criteria that I just laid out, and again, seeing no individuals or organizations promoting legislation of this kind, it’s something I’ve taken it upon myself to work on,” Angelo said.

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World

Chile marriage equality bill receives final approval

South American country legalized civil unions in 2015

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Chile, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A bill that will extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Chile received final approval on Tuesday.

The Chilean Senate and the Chilean House of Representatives approved the marriage equality bill that passed in the lower house of the country’s Congress on Nov. 23. That vote took place two days after the first round of the country’s presidential election took place.

A final vote on the bill was expected to have taken place last week, but senators unexpectedly opposed it.

A commission with members of both houses of the Chilean congress approved the bill on Monday.

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Does a potential overturn of Roe imperil LGBTQ rights?

Some fear that Obergefell marriage decision could fall

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Protests outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1. (Photo by Cathy Renna)

The oral arguments before the justices of the United States Supreme Court had barely ended in the case brought by the state of Mississippi defending its law banning abortion after 15 weeks, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, when alarms were set off in legal circles as some argued that Obergefell v. Hodges — the same-sex marriage decision — would be in danger should the high court rule to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler, appearing on NPR’s ‘Heard on All Things Considered,’ told host Mary Louise Kelly that there was a basis for concern over whether the court would actually overrule its precedents in other cases based on the questions and statements raised during the hearing by the conservative members of the court.

Asked by Kelly if she saw a legal door opening Ziegler affirmed that she did. Kelly then asked her, “Them taking up cases to do with that. What about same-sex marriage?”

Ziegler answered, “Yeah, same-sex marriage is definitely a candidate. Justices Alito and Thomas have in passing mentioned in dicta that they think it might be worth revisiting Obergefell v. Hodges – the same-sex marriage decision.

“And I think it’s fair to say that in the sort of panoply of culture war issues, that rights for same-sex couples and sexual orientation are still among the most contested, even though certainly same-sex marriage is more subtle than it was and than abortion was.

“I think that certainly the sort of balance between LGBTIQ rights and religious liberty writ large is a very much alive issue, and I think some states may try to test the boundaries with Obergefell, particularly knowing that they have a few justices potentially willing to go there with them.”

As almost if to underscore the point raised by Ziegler during the hearing, Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor pointed out that the high court has taken and “discerned” certain rights in cases from the Constitution.

Along with abortion, the court has “recognized them in terms of the religion parents will teach their children. We’ve recognized it in their ability to educate at home if they choose,” Sotomayor said. “We have recognized that sense of privacy in people’s choices about whether to use contraception or not. We’ve recognized it in their right to choose who they’re going to marry.”

In following up the cases cited by Justice Sotomayor, Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart, who was defending the state’s abortion law, whether a decision in his favor would affect the legal precedents in those cases cited by Justice Sotomayor.

In his answer to Justice Barrett, the state’s Solicitor General said cases involving contraception, same-sex marriage and sodomy wouldn’t be called into question because they involve “clear rules that have engendered strong reliance interests and that have not produced negative consequences or all the many other negative stare decisis considerations we pointed out.”

However, Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer and Legal Director, Sharon McGowan had a different take and interpreted remarks by Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to mean that the decisions in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized private sexual intimacy between same-sex couples, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down remaining bans on the freedom of same-sex couples to marry, would actually justify overturning Roe v. Wade.

In a publicly released media statement McGowan noted: “During today’s argument, Justice Kavanaugh suggested that two key Supreme Court decisions protecting LGBTQ civil rights—Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges—support overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

‘To that we say, NOT IN OUR NAME. LGBTQ people need abortions. Just as important, those landmark LGBTQ decisions EXPANDED individual liberty, not the opposite. They reflected the growing societal understanding of our common humanity and equality under law.

“Just as the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education rejected the lie of ‘separate but equal,’ the Supreme Court’s decisions in Lawrence and Obergefell appropriately overruled precedent where it was clear that, as was true with regard to race, our ancestors failed properly to acknowledge that gender and sexual orientation must not be barriers to our ability to live, love, and thrive free of governmental oppression. … 

“These landmark LGBTQ cases, which Lambda Legal litigated and won, and on which we rely today to protect our community’s civil rights, were built directly on the foundation of Casey and Roe. Our interests in equal dignity, autonomy, and liberty are shared, intertwined, and fundamental.” 

On Sunday, the Blade spoke with Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national LGBTQ+ legal organization that represented three same-sex couples from Tennessee, whose case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court along with Obergefell and two other cases.

Minter is urging caution in how people interpret the court arguments and remarks made by the justices.

“We should be cautious about taking the bait from anti-LGBTQ groups who falsely argue that if the Supreme Court reverses or undermines Roe v. Wade, they are likely to reverse or undermine Obergefell or Lawrence. In fact, that is highly unlikely, as the argument in Dobbs itself showed,” he said.

“The only reason Justice Kavanaugh mentioned Obergefell and Lawrence, along with Brown v. Board of Education, was to cite them as examples of cases in which the Supreme Court clearly did the right thing. All of those decisions rely at least as strongly on equal protection as on fundamental rights, and even this extremely conservative Supreme Court has not questioned the foundational role of equal protection in our nation’s constitutional law,” Minter stressed.

During an interview with Bloomberg magazine, David Cortman, of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist hate group, said “two things in particular distinguish abortion from those other privacy rights: the right to life and the states’ interest in protecting a child.”

Cortman, whose group urged the justices to allow states to ban same-sex marriages, said those other rights may be just as wrong as the right to an abortion. “But the fundamental interest in life that’s at issue in abortion means those other rights are probably not in any real danger of being overturned.”

But Cortman is of the opinion that there is little impetus among the court’s conservatives to take up challenges to those cases.

However, the fact that the six to three makeup of the high court with a conservative majority has progressives clamoring for the public to pay closer attention and be more proactively engaged.

Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, in an emailed statement to the Blade underscored those concerns:

“Reports and analysis coming out of Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization are extremely disturbing and represent a threat to our individual constitutional rights to privacy and autonomy. There is no ‘middle ground’ on what the Constitution guarantees and what was decided decades ago with the Roe v Wade decision. 

“This is about liberty, equality, and the rule of law, not the political or partisan views of those sitting on the bench. The unprecedented decision to remove a constitutional right recognized by the Supreme Court 50 years ago would set back civil rights by decades. ….

“Abortion access is essential, and a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. Bans on abortion are deeply racist and profoundly sexist – the harshest impacts fall on Black and Brown women and pregnant people and on our families and communities.

“If you think this decision will not affect you, think again: a wrong decision by the Supreme Court means you, too, will lose your bodily autonomy, your ability to own your own personal and community power. This is not just about abortion; it is about controlling bodies based on someone else determining your worthiness. This is a racial justice issue. This is a women’s issue. It is an LGBTQ issue. It is a civil rights issue. These are our fundamental rights that are at stake.”

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In plea deal, D.C. trans woman’s killers could be free in 3 years

Two in 2016 killing of Dee Dee Dodds guilty of voluntary manslaughter

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Deeniquia Dodds, gay news, Washington Blade
Deeniquia ‘Dee Dee’ Dodds was killed on July 4, 2016. (Photo via Facebook)

A D.C. LGBTQ anti-violence group will be submitting a community impact statement for a D.C. Superior Court judge scheduled to sentence two men on Dec. 10 for the July 4, 2016, shooting death of transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds in a case D.C. police listed as a hate crime.

Stephania Mahdi, chair of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community’s Anti-Violence Project, told the Washington Blade the project has been in contact with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C., which is prosecuting the case against the two defendants set to be sentenced this week, to arrange for the submission of a statement on the impact the murder of Dodds has had on the community.

The impact statement would also apply to the sentencing of two other men charged in the Dodds murder case who are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 20.

The Dec. 10 sentencing for Jolonta Little, 30, and Monte T. Johnson, 25, was set to take place a little over two months after Little and Johnson pleaded guilty on Sept. 30 to a single count of voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors.

In exchange for the guilty plea for voluntary manslaughter, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the charge of first-degree murder while armed originally brought against the two men. The plea agreement also called for dropping additional charges against them in connection with the Dodds murder, including robbery while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

In addition, the plea agreement includes a promise by prosecutors to ask D.C. Superior Court Judge Milton C. Lee, who is presiding over the case, to issue a sentence of eight years in prison for both men. Under the D.C. criminal code, a conviction on a voluntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Johnson has been held without bond for five years and three months since his arrest in the Dodds case in September 2016. Little has been held without bond since his arrest for the Dodds murder in February 2017. Courthouse observers say that judges almost always give defendants credit for time served prior to their sentencing, a development that would likely result in the two men being released in about three years.

The plea deal for the two men came two and a half years after a D.C. Superior Court jury became deadlocked and could not reach a verdict on the first-degree murder charges against Johnson and Little following a month-long trial, prompting Judge Lee to declare a mistrial on March 6, 2019.

The two other men charged in Dodds’ murder, Shareem Hall, 27, and his brother, Cyheme Hall, 25, accepted a separate plea bargain offer by prosecutors shortly before the start of the 2019 trial in which they pled guilty to second-degree murder. Both testified at Johnson and Little’s the trial as government witnesses.

In dramatic testimony, Cyheme Hall told the jury that it was Johnson who fatally shot Dodds in the neck at point blank range after he said she grabbed the barrel of Johnson’s handgun as Johnson and Hall attempted to rob her on Division Ave., N.E., near where she lived. Hall testified that the plan among the four men to rob Dodds did not include the intent to kill her.

In his testimony, Hall said that on the day of Dodd’s murder, he and the other three men made plans to commit armed robberies for cash in areas of D.C. where trans women, some of whom were sex workers, congregated. He testified that the four men got into a car driven by Little and searched the streets for victims they didn’t expect to offer resistance.

D.C. police and the U.S. Attorney’s office initially designated the murder charge against Little and Johnson as an anti-trans hate crime offense based on findings by homicide detectives that the men were targeting trans women for armed robberies. But during Johnson and Little’s trial, Judge Lee dismissed the hate crime designation at the request of defense attorneys on grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support a hate crime designation.

At the request of prosecutors, Judge Lee scheduled a second trial for Johnson and Little on the murder charge for Feb. 25, 2020. But court records show the trial date was postponed to June 22, 2020, and postponed several more times – to Jan 11, 2021, and later to Feb. 17, 2022, due to COVID-related restrictions before the plea bargain offer was agreed to in September of this year.  The public court records do not show why the trial was postponed the first few times prior to the start of COVID restrictions on court proceedings.

Legal observers have said long delays in trials, especially murder trials, often make it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain a conviction because memories of key witnesses sometimes become faulty several years after a crime was committed.

“The D.C. Anti-Violence Project is disappointed to hear about the unfortunate proceedings in the case to bring justice for Dee Dee Dodds,” Mahdi, the Anti-Violence Project’s chair, told the Blade in a statement.

“A plea bargain from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter as well as a reduction of years in sentencing from 30 to 8 communicates not only a miscarriage of justice, but a message of penalization for victims who attempt to protect themselves during a violent assault,” Mahdi said. “The continual impact of reducing the culpability of perpetrators who target members of specifically identified communities sends a malicious message to criminals that certain groups of people are easier targets with lenient consequences,” she said.

“As a result of this pattern, the D.C. community has failed to defend the life and civil rights of Dee Dee Dodds and leaves criminally targeted LGBTQ+ community and other cultural identity communities critically undervalued by stewards of justice in the nation’s capital,” Mahdi concluded.  

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has declined to disclose the reason why prosecutors decided to offer Johnson and Little the plea bargain deal rather than petition the court for a second trial for the two men on the first-degree murder charge.

Attorneys familiar with cases like this, where a jury becomes deadlocked, have said prosecutors sometimes decide to offer a plea deal rather than go to trial again out of concern that another jury could find a defendant not guilty on all charges.

During the trial, defense attorneys told the jury that the Hall brothers were habitual liars and there were inconsistencies in their testimony. They argued that the Halls’ motives were aimed strictly at saying what prosecutors wanted them to say so they could get off with a lighter sentence.

The two prosecutors participating in the trial disputed those claims, arguing that government witnesses provided strong evidence that Johnson and Little should be found guilty of first-degree murder and other related charges.

Before the jury announced it was irreconcilably deadlocked on the murder charges, the jury announced it found Little not guilty of seven separate counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence and found Johnson not guilty of five counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.

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