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Deliberating Jury in Danny Masterson’s Rape Trial to Return Wednesday to Hear Key Witness Testimony Read Aloud

Two prosecutors walking in suits and a separate photo of Danny Masterson and Bijou Phillips

(l-r) Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys Ariel Anson and Reinhold Mueller, actor and rape defendant Danny Masterson and his wife, Bijou Phillips. (Photos by Meghann M. Cuniff/Law&Crime)

Jurors in actor Danny Masterson’s rape trial will continue deliberating Wednesday after requesting to hear testimony from an alleged victim read aloud.

They left about 4 p.m. Tuesday and are to return to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo’s courtroom at 9 a.m. to hear the court reporter read aloud from the transcript of Chrissie Carnell-Bixler’s testimony about Masterson allegedly raping her in November 2001. Jurors emphasized they want to hear all testimony about the encounter, including cross-examination, and at a slow pace, which could take a few hours.

Carnell-Bixler is one of thee women Masterson is accused of raping between 2001 and 2003 at his former Hollywood Hills home. At the time, he was one of the most recognizable stars on TV, playing the role of Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show, and he and Carnell-Bixler were living together and in a romantic relationship.

But Masterson is also a lifelong member of the Church of Scientology, and his alleged victims testified about church members trying to downplay what happened to them while defending Masterson. The Church of Scientology denies any wrongdoing and says the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is trying to use Masterson’s religion against him.

Tuesday was the second full day of deliberations for the second rendition of the jury after two jurors were dismissed because of weekend COVID diagnoses. They were replaced with alternates.

Olmedo ordered deliberations to begin anew on Monday. The previous jury had announced in the middle of its third day of deliberations on Nov. 18 that they were unable to reach a consensus on any of Masterson’s three charges.

But instead of declaring a mistrial, Olmedo did what many California state judges do with hung juries and told them they hadn’t deliberated long enough to consider all the evidence and thus couldn’t declare themselves deadlocked. But the deadlocked jurors never continued deliberating. Instead, Olmedo sent them home and told them to return Nov. 28, which led to the two alternates moving in because of COVID diagnoses.

The original jury never publicly stated the nature of their split. The new jury stayed quiet all of Monday and most of Tuesday until requesting the read back of Carnell-Bixler’s testimony.

The read back will not include testimony from Carnell-Bixler’s husband, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the lead singer of The Mars Volta who testified as a supporting witness for his wife but did not discuss the November 2001 incident.

Masterson, 46, faces 45 years to life in prison if convicted. He awaited the jury Tuesday in the hallway with family and friends, including his wife, Bijou Phillips.

Phillips has also been in court every day, and she’s often joined by her half-sisters, Chynna Phillips and Mackenzie Phillips. The Phillips sisters’ father was John Phillips, the late singer of the Mamas & the Papas. Chynna’s mother is Michelle Phillips, the band’s other lead singer, and her husband is actor Billy Baldwin, the second youngest of the four Baldwin brothers.

Masterson’s mother, Carol Masterson, has attended every day of his trial. His younger brothers Christopher Masterson and Jordan Masterson also are often at the courthouse, as is their sister, Alanna Masterson.

Read all past coverage of the Masterson trial here.

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A graduate of the University of Oregon, Meghann worked at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho, before moving to California in 2013 to work at the Orange County Register. She spent four years as a litigation reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and one year as a California-based editor and reporter for and associated publications such as The National Law Journal and New York Law Journal before joining Law & Crime News. Meghann has written for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Bloomberg Law, ABA Journal, The Forward, Los Angeles Business Journal and the Laguna Beach Independent. Her Twitter coverage of federal court hearings in a lawsuit over homelessness in Los Angeles placed 1st in the Los Angeles Press Club's Southern California Journalism Awards for Best Use of Social Media by an Independent Journalist in 2021. An article she freelanced for Los Angeles Times Community News about a debate among federal judges regarding the safety of jury trials during COVID also placed 1st in the Orange County Press Club Awards for Best Pandemic News Story in 2021.