Pierce County Jury Deadlocks In Shooting Death Of Deputy -- But Tacoma Man Is Convicted Of Assault
Seattle Times South Bureau
TACOMA - It was a verdict "that doesn't allow you to heal."
After an agonizing three months of trial and 13 days of deliberation, a 12-person jury in Pierce County Superior Court couldn't reach a decision on whether or not Brian Eggleston was guilty of murdering Pierce County Sheriff's Deputy John Bananola during an Oct. 16, 1995, drug raid in Tacoma.
They did, however, find Eggleston guilty of first-degree assault with a firearm against Deputy Warren Dogeagle. They also found Eggleston guilty of possessing drugs with the intent of delivery, and of committing those activities while in a school zone.
Selling drugs in a school zone carries additional prison time, as does an assault with firearm. If the combined charges run consecutively, Eggleston could spend more than 20 years in prison. He will be sentenced May 30.
Defense attorney Monte Hester said an appeal is possible.
In the meantime, prosecutors have 60 days to decide whether to retry Eggleston on the aggravated murder charge.
The verdict brings no closure to the ordeal, said Bob Patsfield, a friend of the Bananola family.
"You'd think all the evidence they need would be the wound in the forehead," said Bananola's ex-wife, Glori Bananola.
Twice the jury told visiting Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee they were deadlocked. Twice McPhee told them to try again.
As the verdict was read, members of the Bananola family, including his 16-year-old daughter, Brooke, sat solemnly. Across the aisle, Linda Eggleston, Eggleston's mother, cried quietly surrounded by family members.
If deputies raided your house early in the morning, "what would you do?" said Tonietta Lisicich, Eggleston's friend. "We've got a nice kid here. They had to blame someone."
Defense attorney Monte Hester argued Eggleston shot the Pierce County Sheriff's deputy in self-defense.
He maintained deputies broke into the house and woke Eggleston up and he was confused and sleepy, he said.
Hester said the hallway where Bananola was shot was dark and that the deputy was shooting at Eggleston in a crouched position, making it impossible for him to see the word "sheriff" in large yellow reflective letters on Bananola's vest.
Eggleston was shot several times himself, including one shot that punctured his lung.
Deputy Prosecutor Lilah Amos contended Eggleston chased Bananola down the hallway in the home at 901 E. 52nd St. and executed him in a rage.
She said Bananola was shot nine times, three times in the head, as he lay dying. Eggleston shot at Dogeagle during that same raid.
In the home after the shooting, police found nine additional guns, a knife, more than $1,600, 379 grams of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia.
When police made the raid they believed Eggleston's brother, a Pierce County Sheriff's deputy, was involved in selling drugs but later found he had moved out of the house three months earlier.
Brent Eggleston was later cleared of any involvement with his brother's drug sales.
Yesterday's decision, at least for the present, ended about three months of trial with 500 exhibits and testimony from a number of forensic experts.
Both the defense and the prosecution were at public expense.
Pierce County Executive Doug Sutherland said the county had yet to tally the total cost of the trial.
The jury could have found Brian Eggleston guilty of murder and sentenced him to life in prison or death. Alternatively, the jury could have convicted Eggleston of second-degree murder.
Those options may face another jury next year - the estimated time for the case to come to trial a second time.
"I'm not looking forward to next year," Glori Bananola said.
During a press conference following the verdict, both Sutherland and County Prosecutor John Ladenburg said they favored retrying Eggleston.
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