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The Supreme Court seemed divided Wednesday on whether to allow an Arkansas man to be retried on murder charges even though a jury forewoman said in open court that they were unanimously against finding him guilty.

Alex Blueford of Jacksonville, Ark., was charged in July 2008 in the death of 20-month-old Matthew McFadden Jr. Blueford testified at trial that he elbowed the boy in the head by accident. Authorities say the child was beaten to death.

Blueford's murder trial ended in a hung jury. The jury forewoman told the judge before he declared a mistrial that the jury voted unanimously against capital murder and first-degree murder. The jury deadlocked on a lesser charge, manslaughter, which caused the mistrial.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled last year that Blueford should be retried on the original charges. But Blueford's lawyers want justices to bar a second trial on capital and first-degree murder charges, saying that would violate Fifth Amendment protections preventing someone from being tried twice for the same crime.


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