A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the case against a 38-year-old Mission Viejo man charged with killing his mother, with jurors deadlocking 11-1 on a verdict.
Jurors began deliberating Monday morning and said they could not reach a verdict as of Tuesday afternoon because of the holdout. A hearing was scheduled for Friday to consider how to proceed with a retrial.
Charles Seton Mosby is charged with one count of first-degree murder. He is accused of killing 69-year-old Marie Mosby, a former elementary school teacher, on Sept. 9, 2021.
“Five to seven minutes. I want you to think about that,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Feldman said in his opening statement. “Five to seven minutes is how long it takes for someone to cut off a person’s oxygen to die.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Mosby “held his hands over his own mother’s mouth” until she died, Feldman alleged.
According to the defendant’s description he smothered her “until her eyes were bugging out,” Feldman said.
“Then, after he realized she was dead, he decided to cover up the crime,” Feldman said.
After putting his 5-foot-1 mother’s body in the plastic storage bin he “wrapped her in plastic,” Feldman said.
The next day he went to The Home Depot to buy Damp Rid to mask the odor of the decomposing body, the prosecutor said.
Marie Mosby drove from their home at 27153 Cipres to City Hall on Oct. 13, 2020, so she could call police because the defendant had smashed her phone and computer, Feldman said.
The prosecutor played a tape of another 911 call with authorities in December of 2020 when she called to report she feared her son would try to kill her, Feldman said.
“My son is trying to break into the house and I’m afraid he’s going to try to kill me,” Maria Mosby said in the call. She had locked the doors when he was out back so he wouldn’t come back into the home.
She told the authorities her son is a “paranoid schizophrenic,” who “thinks I’m somebody else in my body,” she’s heard saying in the call.
The tape captures the two arguing heatedly as he complains about being locked out.
Mosby called her stupid and cursed before telling her, “I’m going to be arrested because of you.” He later added, “You should die… and hopefully you will.”
After allegedly killing his mother, Mosby drove to the Las Vegas area on Sept. 14 in his mother’s Chevrolet Volt and was seen by relatives who had not visited with him in about a decade, Feldman said.
“He was driving Maria’s car with their three dogs,” Feldman said.
Family members in Las Vegas had been trying to contact the victim for days with no luck, so they asked her other son, Michael Mosby, to check on her. Michael Mosby, who lives in San Diego County, called sheriff’s deputies to do a welfare check, but they did not find anything amiss and no one answered the door, so they could do nothing further, Feldman said.
Michael Mosby drove up to his mother’s home and broke in and when he could not find her there he called deputies and said he wanted to file a missing person’s report, Feldman said.
When deputies entered the house they noticed an “unforgettable odor” from the victim who was “decomposing in a plastic coffin where she was placed by the defendant,” Feldman said.
Mosby returned to Orange County on Sept. 15 and was arrested in Orange, Feldman said. Mosby had been convicted on drug charges in Riverside County and was under house arrest, so investigators were able to use a location device to chart when he was away from the home, Feldman said.
According to Feldman, when investigators first questioned Mosby he “plays ignorant and asks, `Did you find her?’ ”
Later, he said he had been experiencing “manic episodes” and was “digging up the yard,” Feldman said. Then he said his mother had “come at him with a kitchen knife” and he managed to get the weapon away from her and was attempting to render her unconscious in a way he learned in “basic training,” Feldman said.
He also told the investigators that it was not his mother but a “clone,” Feldman said.
Mosby claimed he shook his mother to make sure she was awake and then left and “had nothing to do with her death,” Feldman said.
Mosby also said he felt that the authorities would not believe him so he put his mother’s body in the box and left, Feldman said.
He also said he “cut off her air” because she continued to “claw at me,” Feldman said.
Mosby’s attorney, Terri Lynn Bianchi of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, said that when her client saw his mother’s body it “broke” his mind.
“He tells investigators, `It broke my mind,’ ” Bianchi said.
He didn’t know what to do so he put her in the storage bin, she said.
“He knew the cops were coming whether he called them or not,” Bianchi said. “That is what Charles thought. But days go by and the cops don’t come. So he goes to Vegas to say goodbye to his grandmother. He wasn’t able to see his grandmother but leaves some items for her.”
And then he returned to Orange County, Bianchi said.
The defense attorney said in the December 2020 911 call her client can be heard assuring his mother he was not going to kill her. He said that during the pandemic he was worried there would be no one there to care for her, Bianchi said.
In the October 2020 call his mother said that while her son “towers over” her he “never hits her,” Bianchi said.
Mosby told investigators that his mother was highly intelligent but had been slipping and was forgetful so he wondered if it was dementia or whether she was someone else, Bianchi said.
“He admits to mental health issues,” she said.
“He may have committed a crime, but he is absolutely not guilty of murder,” Bianchi said.