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ALBUQUERQUE -- Jurors on Tuesday convicted two officers of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood of Texas of conspiracy to murder a sheriff's deputy and to distribute methamphetamine.
But the jury hung on charges against James Curtis Thompson, or "007," one of the group's top five generals.
Thompson was accused in the murder conspiracy and jailed in administrative segregation in a Texas prison at the time he was indicted on federal racketeering charges. U.S. District Judge William P. "Chip" Johnson declared a mistrial on that count, dismissed jurors and asked attorneys to confer with him about a new trial date.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Castellano said after the verdict that he believed there was "good and sufficient evidence" to convict Thompson, but that the sheer bulk of evidence was heavier against the two co-defendants.
Thompson was the sole witness in the defense portion of the trial, testifying in his own defense that he tried to stop the hit.
His attorney, Stephen Hosford, said that could have been a factor in the disagreement among jurors.
"I honestly don't know," Hosford said.
The jury convicted Robert Guyton "Krusty" Cook and Samuel Zachary Arrington on two counts each. Both were out of prison and, the prosecution charged, involved in arranging meetings to set up a revenge hit on former Otero County Sheriff's Deputy Billy Anders because he had killed an Aryan Brotherhood leader in New Mexico.
Anders fatally shot Earl Lee Flippen in December 2004 after being dispatched to a domestic violence call at a Cloudcroft residence and engaging in a gun battle with Flippen. Anders fatally shot a wounded and handcuffed Flippen after discovering Flippen's pregnant girlfriend shot dead and then finding his fellow deputy, Robert Hedman, splayed out at the back of the Flippen residence.
Word of the Flippen death reached members of the Aryan Brotherhood in prison in stages, and as the details of it emerged, leaders began formulating plans to avenge Flippen's death, the prosecution alleged.
By 2005, the duty to plan the murder was placed on Owen Puckett Jr., who unknowingly hired an undercover federal agent to carry out the murder, the prosecution contended.
Anders had pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a year in prison.
A five-year FBI investigation led to charges against Thompson and 11 others in connection with the plot to kill Anders and a family member based on the Aryan Brotherhood's sworn duty to avenge harm to one of its members. "An attack on one is an attack on all," according the Aryan Brotherhood constitution, a prosecution exhibit.
U.S. Attorney Greg Fouratt said in a statement late Tuesday his office intends to retry Thompson on the murder conspiracy as well as charges relating to witness tampering and mailing a threatening communication.
The murder conspiracy carries a possible penalty of up to 10 years in prison. The drug conspiracy is punishable by 5 to 40 years.