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URGENT Jury Convicts Man of Second-Degree Murder in Cabin Slayings of Two Women

May 15, 1991 GMT

COALVILLE, Utah (AP) _ A jury late Tuesday cleared a halfway-house walkaway of first-degree murder charges but convicted him of two counts of second-degree murder in the slayings of a mother and grandmother during a cabin burglary.

Jury forewoman Tamara Martinez said one juror prevented the panel from convicting Edward S. Deli of first-degree murder, under which he could have faced the death penalty.

″We went over it again and again,″ Martinez said. ″He didn’t feel the prosecution had done a good enough job.″

Martinez said the other 11 jurors who finally voted for the lesser murder charge left the courthouse ″very frustrated.″

Deli’s lawyer considered the verdicts a victory.

Deli, scheduled for sentencing June 3, faces up to life in prison for the Dec. 22 shootings of Kay Tiede, 49, of Humble, Texas, and Beth Potts, 76, of Murray, Utah.

The women were killed and Mrs. Tiede’s husband, Rolf, 51, was seriously wounded in a break-in at the isolated vacation cabin in Oakley, 40 miles east of Salt Lake City. The couple’s daughters, Tricia and Linae, were kidnapped after the shootings; authorities rescued them after a high-speed chase in which shots were fired.

A co-defendant, Von Lester Taylor, pleaded guilty May 1 to two counts of first-degree murder in the slayings. His sentencing hearing is set to begin Wednesday before Noel. Prosecutors seek the death penalty for Taylor.

Taylor and Deli had walked away from a halfway house in Salt Lake City Dec. 14 after serving prison terms.

Deli also was convicted of two counts of aggravated kidnapping and single counts of aggravated robbery, aggravated arson, theft and aggravated assault.

The 3rd District Court jury deliberated 12 1/2 hours over two days before returning to Judge Frank Noel’s courtroom Tuesday evening.

Deli showed no reaction to the verdicts, but his attorney, Martin Gravis, saw them as a victory.

″It was the verdict we asked the jury to return. He realizes he’s guilty of the crime,″ Gravis said.

Prosecutors wouldn’t comment. Relatives of both Deli and the victims, some of whom quietly wept after the verdicts, would not discuss the case.

In closing statements Monday, prosecutor Robert Adkins depicted Deli as a remorseless killer who deserved the death penalty, regardless of whether he was the triggerman. Gravis countered that there was no evidence his client shot either victim.

After the shootings, Deli took Kay Tiede’s daughter, Linae Tiede, 20, into a bedroom to keep Taylor from killing her, the defense attorney said.

Linae Tiede testified that Deli bound her hands and feet and gagged her with a sock. She said he ″acted just like nothing happened″ after the two women were gunned down.

She testified that Taylor shot her mother, but she did not see who fired at her grandmother.

A ballistics expert and medical examiner testified that bullets from two guns - a .44-caliber and a .38-caliber handgun - killed Mrs. Tiede and Mrs. Potts. Witnesses had testified that Deli carried the .44.