SAN JOSE -- Without explaining their vote, jurors deadlocked 10-2 late Tuesday on whether a convicted sex offender who has served more than 30 years for raping men should be deemed a sexually violent predator and committed indefinitely to a state mental hospital.

The jury of three men and nine women rushed out of court without revealing where the majority stood on the fate of Duane Stillwell, 54.

Their exit after more than two days of deliberations means Santa Clara County prosecutors have until Friday to decide whether to retry the case or release Stillwell. In the meantime, investigators will try to contact jurors to learn the nature of the split.

"My recommendation is very strongly to retry it," prosecutor Marisa McKeown said after Superior Judge Gilbert T. Brown declared a mistrial.

The jury began deliberating Thursday afternoon after a two-week hearing that included searing details about Stillwell's assaults.

Stillwell was supposed to serve 59 years in prison for a series of sex crimes, including a conviction he picked up while behind bars. For nearly four months, he forcibly sodomized his cellmate on a daily basis, beat him, threatened to blind him with a pencil, choked him to unconsciousness and urinated on him.


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But after serving more than 33 years, Stillwell was to be paroled under the prison credit system for work and good behavior, until the prosecutors sought to send him to a state hospital indefinitely on the grounds that he is a sexually violent predator, or SVP. If he were committed, he would receive treatment and could apply every two years to be released.

"He's uniquely dangerous in that he is both sexually preoccupied and a psychopath," McKeown told the jury during her closing argument. "The SVP law was written for people like him."

Two experts hired by the California Department of State Hospitals both found that Stillwell has "paraphilia," a condition characterized by abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities. One expert also said Stillwell had elements of sexual sadism.

Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482. Follow her at Twitter.com/tkaplanreport.