BALTIMORE — Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy said he would continue promoting his theory that the 1972 break-in was about sex and not gathering political intelligence, now that a $5.1 million defamation lawsuit against him has been dismissed.
District Chief Judge J. Frederick Motz declared a mistrial Thursday after jurors, who had deliberated for eight hours over two days, told him they could not reach a verdict.
After another two hours of arguments, Motz dismissed the case for the second time in three years.
"Having carefully considered all of the evidence, I do not believe a reasonable jury could find Mr. Liddy was negligent in making the statements at issue in this case," Motz said.
Liddy was sued by Ida "Maxie" Wells, a former Democratic National Committee secretary, for saying that the Watergate burglars were searching her desk for a package of call-girl photos believed to include a picture of the future wife of John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel. Liddy says Dean organized the burglary to retrieve the photos.
Liddy, 70, called the dismissal and the mistrial a "double victory" which would allow him to continue espousing his theory.
"I am going to be saying exactly what I've been saying," he said. "Why should I change? I just won."
Liddy referred to Dean as a "serial perjurer" during the three-week trial.
"John Dean has just had a stake driven through his heart and I pounded it in there and how sweet it is," Liddy said after dismissal.
John and Maureen Dean have repeatedly denied Liddy's theory and sued him for libel. That lawsuit was dismissed last year but can be refiled.
Wells' attorney, David Dorsen, said his client would likely appeal. Wells was not in the courtroom Thursday.
Liddy's attorney, John B. Williams, had argued that Liddy discussed his theory in speeches in 1996 and 1997 after thoroughly investigating the possibility of a call-girl ring.
Jurors said outside court that they were split 7-2 in Liddy's favor.
"I don't feel you can defame a desk or a phone," said 50-year-old juror Bob Balazic.
Liddy's testimony was the first he has given about the particulars of the break-in, which ultimately led to President Nixon's resignation.
He refused to testify during his 1973 trial and received a sentence of more than 20 years — the longest of any Watergate conspirator. He was released more than four years later when President Carter commuted his sentence.
Liddy now hosts a syndicated conservative radio talk show.