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Fifth try at murder conviction ends with hung jury

Published: Sat, August 14, 2010 @ 12:05 a.m.




After the equivalent of almost two full days of deliberations, a seven-man, five-woman jury was unable to reach a verdict in the trial of Christopher Anderson for the 2002 murder of Amber Zurcher.

At about 2:30 p.m. Friday, the jurors, who started their deliberations Wednesday afternoon, informed Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that they were deadlocked hopelessly.

The two-week trial that ended Friday as a mistrial was the fifth trial attempt for Anderson, who was returned to county jail to await further action in his case.

Anderson, 42, of South Main Street, Austintown, was one of several people who attended a party in Zurcher’s Compass West apartment in Austintown. After everyone else left, Anderson returned and strangled the 22-year-old Zurcher with a cord June 3, 2002, prosecutors allege.

Rebecca Doherty, an assistant county prosecutor, said her preference would be to retry Anderson and that she would consult with others in her office on the matter. She added, however, “It’s not set in stone yet, obviously, that we’re going to retry him.”

“I believe he committed this murder in 2002, and I believe our evidence will tell the jury that,” she said, explaining why she favors another trial.

Because “a significant number of those jurors” expressed after this month’s trial a strong belief that Anderson is guilty, Doherty said: “I can’t very well walk away from that.”

Anderson’s first trial in May 2003 was declared a mistrial because of “an unsolicited comment” from a witness.

Anderson’s second trial in November 2003 resulted in a conviction and a sentence of 15 years to life in prison, but the 7th District Court of Appeals overturned that conviction in September 2006, citing “cumulative error” in the trial.

A third trial in December 2008 ended with a hung jury, which Doherty said voted 11-1 for conviction.

A fourth attempt last April ended in a mistrial after a defense lawyer fell asleep in the courtroom during jury selection.

Doherty said having multiple trials in such cases is not unprecedented. Doherty recalled a case she tried as an assistant Summit County prosecutor, in which four trials of a murder suspect resulted in a hung jury, but he was convicted in his fifth trial.

Anderson’s defense lawyer, John B. Juhasz, declined to comment after the jury declared itself deadlocked.


1trailblazer(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

WOW!! Unbelievable!

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2diamondwendy(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

For anyone who actually reads these comments please be aware and tell everyone you speak to about this case that Chris WAS OFFERED a plea which would have had him serve AT MOST only two more years in jail. (He has already been there for 8 years!) However, Chris turned it down. He said that he "will never say I am guilty of something I didn't do, even if that means spending the rest of my life in jail". I think that speaks volumes. Don't you?

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3Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

So far he got away with technicalities with the exception of one jury. Hes guilty and he'll serve his time.

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4fitnessbuff(57 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

there is no burden of proof! He is innocent. He needs to be released so he can go back to his son and be a father again on a daily basis.

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago


most significant argument deals with the testimony of two witnesses, Donna Dripps
and Bradley Windle. During the first trial of this case, the prosecutor intended to
introduce evidence that Appellant attacked and strangled Donna Dripps in a manner
similar to the Amber Zurcher attack. The trial judge excluded any mention of the
Donna Dripps incident and ultimately declared a mistrial after a witness mentioned the

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

"During the first trial of this case, the prosecutor intended to
introduce evidence that Appellant attacked and strangled Donna Dripps in a manner
similar to the Amber Zurcher attack. "

Christopher Anderson would kill again or attempt to if released . Lets seat a jury with an IQ of at least above mentally challenged .

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7Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

1. A mistrial because of “an unsolicited comment” from a witness.
2. A “cumulative error” in the trial. (cumulative error is premised on the existence of errors, no one of which merits reversal)
3. Voted 11-1 for conviction.
4. A defense lawyer fell asleep in the courtroom during jury selection.
5. A significant number of those jurors” expressed after this month’s trial a strong belief that Anderson is guilty.

What part don't you people get? If he does get out you better pray he don't move in your neighborhood or date your daughter.
Yep, he's innocent.


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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Christopher Anderson is getting treated far better than he treated his victim . Perhaps Amber is waiting patiently for justice where Christopher gets rewarded for his deed in kind . Setting him free would only condemn another victim to death . As time goes by killers get bolder if there is a willingness by society to give them another chance . There was no justification is his taking the life of Amber Zurcher .

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9diamondwendy(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

The trial in which he was convicted was overturned on appeal. 80 pages of errors in the trial. In this trial, the prosecution had witness after witness testify that Amber thought Chris was a freak. That he was a party crasher. That she didn't feel safe alone with him and that she didn't want him at her party. (And, by the way, her "brother" was friends with Chris) NO ONE, including Johnny O (the brother) asked Chris to leave when he arrived. In fact, another witness listed Chris ALONG WITH all of the other guests..NOT as an unwanted, party crashing, freak. After all of this, testimony that Chris left with Johnny O & another person & locked the door, the prosecution then asks you to believe that Chris returned later and Amber let him in. ???? He is a freak! She didn't feel safe unless someone else was with her when he was around! He was uninvited! All this the prosecution asks you to believe, then they ask you to believe she let him in her house later when no one else was with her? So which is it we are supposed to believe? You can't have both.

I know Christopher Anderson. We have a son together. There are people walking this planet that have done evil and vindictive things to him. His one ex-wife is one of them. (one of the witnesses for the prosecution) She threatend to kill my son when he was 7 years old, along with some other things. She said she didn't like him. Chris may not have lead the most pristine life. He has made mistakes, but taking Amber's life isn't one of them.
There is no weapon. There is no motive. There is no witness. The evidence is a sucker bite! (from an admitted encounter in the bathroom at the party) They also ask you to believe that he was maticulous enough to take the murder weapon, her clothes, beer bottles and leave no finger prints, but not smart enough in that he left a sucker bite with his saliva on her body!
And for those of you not in the court room...the police admitted on the witness stand that they did not take pertinent and important evidence. There is still a third person's DNA underneath her finger nails that they have not identified AND there was a person who was at the apartment complex AFTER Amber's death, BEFORE the police arrived. He was "looking for $200" in the grass outside of the complex that he "lost". It was Johnny O (her brother) who didn't bother to actually go to Amber's apartment where he was the majority of the evening. Instead he was looking in the grass outside. Was he looking for money or was he looking to make sure he left no evidence behind? Far stretch...or is it?

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10Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

"During the first trial of this case, the prosecutor intended to
introduce evidence that Appellant attacked and strangled Donna Dripps in a manner
similar to the Amber Zurcher attack. "

Christopher Anderson deserves the same fate that he administered to Amber Zurcher .

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11Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago


"Chris may not have lead the most pristine life. He has made mistakes, but taking Amber's life isn't one of them."

Do you know this for a fact? Where you there that night? The M.O. is to consequential. I don't think the prosecution would keep going after this piece of work if he was so innocent. If he's set free then the witnesses better be prepared for retaliation.

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12diamondwendy(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

No, I was NOT there that night. But I know the man. I lived with him for 3 years and was with him for 5. We have been a part of each other's lives for more than 21 years. He had no reason to kill Amber. And it is my opinion, based on personal knowledge and life spent WITH Chris, that he does not have the capability. As I mentioned previously, there are several people who have done very malicious things to him, to me & to our son. People who have physically threatened each of us. If he is a man of such violence and temper, why are they still walking around? (If he is a threat & killer as you say) Amber had never done anything. They were friends. All of the prosecutions witnesses made Chris out to be a monster, yet each & every one of them hung out wih him on a regular basis at Chippers. If he was horrible, why did they allow him in Amber's house & why would they hang with him?

In reference to the first trial, that so called "evidence" about Donna Dripps was false & made up. That FACT as you call it, was one of the main reasons Chris's original verdict was granted an appeal. As well as many other "facts". The FACTS of THIS trial is that there are witnesses--two--that left Amber's apartment with Chris that night. Amber locked the door behind them & she was alive. The FACT is that there are also TWO other witnesses to is whereabouts AFTER he left the party, during the time of Amber's death. The FACT is there is no motive. The FACT is there is no weapon. The FACT is there is no evidence that Chris did this. The FACT is there is no witness. It is complete and total assumption.

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13diamondwendy(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

The FACT is I spoke with one of the jurors after the hung jury was announced on Thursday. The FACT is the verdict ended in 8-4 for innocence, not guilt. The FACT is that even this juror believes that the murderer is still out there. The FACT is that the older members of the jury could not believe that someone could have sex in a bathroom, at a party with drugs & alcohol, with people on the other side of the door. I guess they haven't watched the news about kids having sex in the halls at school.

I cannot even begin to imagine the grief & frustration that Amber's family is going through. I pray for all of them often. The FACT is Amber's son will never know his Mommy. The FACT is Amber's mother will never again hold her daughter. The FACT is that Amber was horrifically, brutally & intentionally murdered. The FACT is that the real murderer is still walking around somewhere a free man. The FACT is Christopher Anderson is an innocent man. He could have pled his case & been out of jail in 2 years or less, after spending & losing 8 years in prison. The FACT is he chose not to plea because he would have to admit guilt and instead, he has chosen to stand firm on the truth. He is innocent.

Do you know Christopher Anderson personally? (Lifes2Short or Stan) Were you in the courtroom? Did you hear the evidence? Do you have any relevant information other than what is printed in a Mahoning County newspaper? If you do not know him, is it fair that you condemn Chris on what is in your own personal thoughts about a man you have no personal knowledge & a situation you really know nothing about?

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14saintsfan89(2 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

diamondwendy i was one of the jurors on the trail and i don't know who you talked to but it was not 8-4 for innocence, it was 8-4 for GUILTY and the "older" member never spoke during deliberations. i was there and heard all testimony and he will NEVER be found not guilty. You can count on that!!

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15diamondwendy(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Well thank you for correcting me. But I did talk to a juror and that is the information he gave to me. He also said it was several "older" jurors, not just one. I only talked to the one juror and did not know at the time how he voted. I assume you were one to vote guilty then and I would be interested to know why. Yes, I support and believe in Chris and I did sit there through the testimony and I do not understand how you would have NO REASONABLE DOUBT. Could you explain?

I am also sure you read that he was offered a plea. What kind of person would not take it? If he is this deliberate and calculating murderer who has already served 8 years in jail, wouldn't you think he would jump at the chance to be free? His original sentence is 15 years to life. He had an opportunity to get out in two years or less. Did you know that information and does that change your vote?

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16ytown67(22 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I have a problem with the fact that John O was at the apartment the morning she was killed and this didn't raise enough doubt.

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17diamondwendy(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

It was a plea of 10 years, he has already served 8, which would have left only 2 years left to serve, which he MAY have been able serve out of jail on probation. Thank you censoredship & ytown. I am in complete agreement with both of you. As far as the county reimbursing him when they set him free, the judge would have to find Chris COMPLETELY INNOCENT. And based on the history with this judge (we have had the same judge for the last 3 trials) that won't happen. I guess they think an "oops, we made a mistake. Sorry we took away 8 years of your life from you, and 8 from your children" would be an adequate repayment.

By the way, it is everyone's tax dollars that are paying for each of these trials as far as the prosecution goes. How many more would the public like to finance? Chris and his family pay for his defense each time.

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18ytown67(22 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Its hard to believe that we just keep paying to keep him in jail/prison and haven't even convicted him yet.

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19DD1978(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY!!!!! Everyone who knows Amber knows it!! Even though I did not know her I know he did it!!!!! Everyone who knows my story knows it too!!! I hope he gets exactly what he deserves!!!!

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20pineapple1(14 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Stan is the man!!!..He knows a guilty man when he sees one!!...I know Chris, and I know Donna, and I also know the horror of what she (Donna) went thru after he brutalized her after what seemed to be a good evening of friends hanging out. She spoke to close friends about this brutalization WAY before Amber was murdered. Diamondwendy just doesn't want to face up to the facts and admit the father of her child is a murderer. I wouldn't want to tell my child that either, so I can understand her fierce comments. The reason he didn't take the plea is because his lawyer gets more & more money to come up with flimsy legal defenses. (Good lawyer, I want that lawyer if I'm ever stupid enough to be charged with a crime). A good lawyer got OJ off too. And the "real" killers are just walking around, perhaps hand in hand on a beach. Maybe, just maybe, Chris was so impaired he doesn't remember what he did. It's called a blackout. But, he may have made an excuse as to why Amber let him back in. Maybe he said his car wouldn't start (how did he get home that night? alibi anybody?) and she felt bad and let him in to call someone to pick him up, or maybe call AAA. She probably felt sorry for him and let him in to make a phone call. Or maybe he begged to get back in to use the restroom, or pretending he was having a heart attack, who knows? My gut feeling is, whatever excuse he made, she felt bad and let him in. He definitely would have killed again. My previous comments on this case were deleted, perhaps because i think he's guilty. Freedom of speech is my right, and i will continue to persue my rights.

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21DD1978(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Here are some FACTS for you 1. He has attacked other women before. 2. He REFUSED a polygraph. 3. He had scratches all over his arms after the murder. 4. His skin was under her fingernails. 5. He told his "friends" that he PASSED a polygraph (why lie about that?) 6. He was never "dating" or "sleeping with" Amber. 7. He tried to intimidate EVERYONE! 8. He is a violent controlling person (which is why he was on probation at the time of the murder) 9. At EVERY trial the jury favored GUILTY over innocent. 10. HE DESERVES EVERYTHING HE GETS!!

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22bratmomof3(2 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I find some of the comments "odd" from baby mama....I dated Chris in 2000/2001 and swam at his house (moms house) so some of your dates dont add up to me....BUT anyhow what I find interesting is that being a mother you could defend a person who is serving time while AMBERS SON will NEVER KNOW HIS MOM! When I dated Chris he had 3 sons of which there were OP on...he "ADMITTED" to domestic violence to his ex more than once....while going out with him I was young like Amber and I had that internal voice that said something was wrong...or atleast not right! My aunt and Chris worked together she fixed us up, I was new to the area....later she back tracked and stated that ppl at work said that it wasnt a "good fix" Then my best friend met him and "mentioned" his name to her dad (that happened to also work WITH him) and he said tell her (me) to RUN and dont look back....a while later (2002) this came across the news I receive a call 5am in the morning my friend frantically telling me "Thank God you are alive its NOT you BUT turn on the Tv!".....So, my BIGGEST question is why did he run? Not one person has mentioned that fact....The next would be HIS OWN attorney fell asleep....THE FINAL BUT BIGGEST FACT IS NOT GUILTY does NOT equal INNOCENT...it means NOT ENOUGH BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT!!!!! AND there should be an IQ test for the jury BUT there isnt one for having children (he had atleast 3)....Lets remember Amber was 22...he was much older "wiser" he could have said ANYTHING to get back in...I left my wallet, I have candy, I lost a puppy, my friends left me, can I use your phone not knowing that meant the cord from it to take her life! SHE LEFT A LITTLE BOY TO NEVER KNOW HIS MOM! Say that outloud thats profound...NEVER KNOW HIS MOM! "If" he didnt the least he could do is give up 8 years of his life LOOKING FOR THE KILLER!

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23mysteryguy72(2 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

first of all nobody hear knows chris like i do i have known him my entire life and this so called violence streak he supposedly has is bullcrap. he is no different from any other normal person out there and for your 411 bratmomof3 his so called domestic violence came from when he was 17 maybe 18 he was in a marriage and had a child that is hard for anyone and he was still a kid. point to be taken he was not alone in the event it takes two to tango just remember that. and to make a point on diamondwendy you are exactly right if he was gonna kill someone it would be his recent ex-wife. she did things to him and her ex before chris that she should be sittiing behind bars for. (Crazy Psycho) and she drove his children away by doing unhuman things to them. so your gonna try and tell me that he killed some random girl. when she is still alive and walking around. chris never even hit his kids to punish them he was a good father when he was able to be. and he had many girl friends he was a lover he loved and respected women. so all of this to me is bullcrap like i said nobody knows him like me i have known him forever. my final comment here is an add on to why her brother John o is still walking around. i want to add y her ex boyfriend who is a psycho was not investigated cuz he was distrot that she broke up with him and made several threats to her and was abusive to her (reason being she left him) and not to mention that after chris got arrested and charged he was in chippers bar bragging about how he got away with murder. mmmmm sounds fishy to me and a 3rd dna that wasnt tested (oh well we got someone lets just go with it and put the blame on him) thats how lazy mahoning county is they were still PO'ed because chris messed them up when he blacked out and had his diabetic coma on new years to me it just sounds like revenge on there part .

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