After deliberating for more than two days, a jury said it was unable to reach a verdict on charges Patrick Combs stole thousands of dollars from an 88-year-old Lincoln widow.

In the courthouse hallway after the case ended in a mistrial, jurors said the vote was 11-1 to find Combs not guilty.

Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly didn't respond to a request for comment on the mistrial or whether the state will seek a retrial. If it does, a new jury will be called.

"(It is) our desire that we can come to some resolution of this matter without the necessity of a retrial," said defense attorney Bob Creager. "But, if the state wishes to retry this case, we look forward to vigorously defending it."

Combs, the former announcer at Memorial Stadium for Husker games, said he was just trying to carry out the wishes of Beverly Mosher and her husband, Harold, who were like parents to him.

The state said the 50-year-old Gretna man took advantage of the couple and their deteriorating health and dementia.

During the trial that started May 2, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Morgan Smith laid out his case that Combs was guilty of four felonies: attempted theft, abuse of a vulnerable adult, theft by unlawful taking of more than $1,500 and unauthorized use of a credit card.

The Lancaster County jury began deliberating Monday afternoon after five full days of testimony. Shortly before noon Thursday, jurors sent a note to Judge Robert Otte saying they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

He told them to keep trying. They went to lunch, then deliberated for another hour before sending the judge a second note saying they were deadlocked.

"It appears there is no ability to reach a verdict," the judge said in declaring a mistrial shortly before 2:30 p.m.

The sole holdout, a 23-year-old Lincoln man, was first to walk out of the courtroom and said he was convinced Combs was guilty because of "the whole dementia thing."

Another 23-year-old juror said she was on the fence for the first vote, which was 9-3 not guilty. In the end, she said, the state's witnesses didn't convince her the Moshers' will wasn't valid. That's not what they were there to decide, she said.

"I feel like I've been banging my head against the wall," she said of the frustration of not being able to reach a verdict.

She said they felt that what Combs did was shady and gross, but they weren't convinced it was illegal.

At trial, the question wasn't whether Combs wrote $121,391.05 in checks on the Moshers' account, used their credit card to charge $2,235.90 and tried to transfer $1.75 million from their account. He admitted on the witness stand that he did.

Prosecutor Smith said the question was whether he stole the money by getting Beverly Mosher to sign a new will leaving him everything while she was living in an Alzheimer's unit and incapable of making her own financial decisions.

Creager said Combs knew the couple his entire life and was carrying out their wishes.

Combs, who had power of attorney for the couple and whose name was on their bank account, testified that Harold Mosher told him he'd have to pay an 18 percent tax on the inheritance because they weren't related and encouraged him to spend it before they died to avoid doing so.

Lincoln police got involved after Combs tried to transfer $1.75 million from their bank account two months after Harold Mosher died.

Later Thursday afternoon, Creager said they know the jury worked very hard on the case.

"There were some very complicated legal issues, jury instructions and factual disputes that needed to be resolved," he said in an email. "We are disappointed that the one holdout juror could not see as did the other 11, but that is the way the system works and we reluctantly accept that outcome."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.



Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.


Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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