SOUTH BEND, Indiana — A northern Indiana mother whose two young sons locked themselves in the trunk of her car and died is free after jurors failed to reach a verdict in her retrial on child neglect charges.
The St. Joseph County jurors deadlocked Thursday evening following the trial of Jacqueline Wilk of New Carlisle — the same result as the jury for her February trial on the same felony charges.
Prosecutors said that Wilk only supervised her sons — 2-year-old Issac Dunner and 4-year-old Dominick Wilk — for about 15 minutes during a five-hour period when they locked themselves in the trunk of her car in June 2011. Isaac died later that day and Dominick died the following day of hyperthermia as heat caused their organs to shut down, authorities said.
Prosecutors maintained that Wilk spent most of the day in bed, didn't feed her sons breakfast and never changed them out of their bedclothes.
Defense attorney Charles Lahey said that Wilk's only mistake was to allow the boys to go upstairs to watch television in a home she considered safe. Lahey said it was a "perfect storm" of events that allowed the boys to sneak outside and into the car trunk in the town about 10 miles west of South Bend.
"I'm just thankful," Wilk said outside the courthouse after the trial, according to WSBT-TV.
Prosecutors didn't immediately say whether they would seek a third trial. The judge scheduled a June 18 conference to discuss the status of the case.
Jury members said four hours of deliberations were difficult.
"I thought it was just a terrible and a tragic accident," juror Paul Go told WNDU-TV. "There's no other way to say that it is not."
Jury foreman Randy Clifton said he couldn't conclude that Wilk had known she was putting her children in a dangerous position.
"I didn't feel like the prosecution proved that she knowingly left them unattended for X amount of time and that this happened," Clifton said.