A judge dismissed the jury foreman Tuesday in the cold case murder trial of a Florida woman charged with killing her 5-year-old son, sending the panel's deliberations back to square one.

Judge Giving Verdict By Hitting Mallet (AndreyPopov, ThinkStock)
AndreyPopov, ThinkStock

The move came as the jury was set to return for its fourth day of deliberations in the trial of Michelle Lodzinski. The former Port St. Lucie, Florida, resident was charged in 2014 in the 1991 death of Timothy Wiltsey in New Jersey after investigators reopened the case.

The judge didn't explain why the foreman was dismissed and replaced by an alternate juror, and told the other jurors that it was "personal and related only to him and has nothing to do with the other members of the jury."

The dismissal was announced after Middlesex County prosecutors and defense lawyer Gerald Krovatin had gathered in a locked courtroom to discuss the juror issue.

The judge also rejected Krovatin's request to declare a mistrial due to the juror issues.

Deliberations were to start over, and jurors were told to disregard whatever the foreman had said during the earlier discussions.

Lodzinski first told authorities Timothy disappeared while she went to get a soda at a carnival in Sayreville, New Jersey, on May 25, 1991. In subsequent interviews she said he had been kidnapped by two men, then by a local woman Lodzinski recognized who was with two men and a little girl.

Prosecutors have portrayed Lodzinski as a struggling single mother overwhelmed by the burden of caring for her child. She was 23 when Timothy went missing. They contend the boy was never at the carnival and that Lodzinski killed him elsewhere and dumped his body in a marshy area near an office park where she once worked.

Krovatin presented witnesses during the trial who said they saw a boy who looked like Timothy at the carnival. He also elicited testimony that neither a blanket, pillowcase or other items found near Timothy's remains contained any DNA evidence linking them to the boy or Lodzinski.

Jurors are considering whether Lodzinski is guilty of murder, aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter.

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