Menendez mistrial declared

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LOS ANGELES - The Beverly Hills murder trial of Lyle Menendez, which has transfixed the United States for months, last night ended in a mistrial after a jury here said it was hopelessly deadlocked and that there was no point in continuing its deliberations, writes Phil Reeves.

Its announcement came just over two weeks after a mistrial was declared in the trial of his brother, Erik, with whom he blasted his parents to death with pump-action shotguns as they were watching television in their dollars 4m ( pounds 2.6m) luxury mansion.

The wealthy young brothers now face a possible retrial, as the Los Angeles District Attorney has said he will file murder charges again, although prosecutors may decide to offer a plea-bargain deal instead. The two separate juries that tried the case - one for each brother - were both deeply split over whether to find them guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Lyle Menendez, 26, a former Princeton student, smiled slightly when the jury announced it was still deadlocked, after 25 days of discussions. He and his 23-year-old brother have escaped a possible death sentence and have won a considerable body of support during the hearing, which supplied the world with an extraordinary insight into the miserable, dysfunctional home of a rich Hollywood entertainment executive.