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After deliberating for five days, a South Australian Supreme Court jury has failed to reach a verdict in the murder trial of Caroline Nilsson, who was accused of faking a home invasion to cover up a murder that was documented on a smartwatch.
The jury spent almost 40 hours over five days trying to decide whether the 29-year-old was guilty of murdering her mother-in-law Myrna Nilsson before staging a home invasion at their Valley View home.
Justice Chris Bleby on Tuesday evening discharged the jury after eight weeks of evidence, telling jurors it was a complex case.
Ms Nilsson will face trial again and her lawyers have flagged a possible bail application.
Ms Nilsson was found in a state of hysteria with her hands and feet bound in September 2016 and told police that she and her 57-year-old mother-in-law had been the victims of a violent home invasion.
But police accused her of murdering Myrna Nilsson at the home.
During the trial, jurors were told that Ms Nilsson’s home invasion story was contradicted by evidence from the victim’s smartwatch, which had documented her death.
Prosecutor Emily Telfer SC told the jury that Ms Nilsson “fabricated” a story to police that she and her mother-in-law had been the victims of a home invasion.
She said the accused told police that she was attacked, bound and gagged by two or three men “who looked like tradies”, before escaping from the family home about three hours later and being found distressed by neighbours.
“None of the versions that Caroline Nilsson told police were true,” she said.
Ms Telfer said the victim was wearing an Apple Watch which tracked her last movements, recording a “flurry” of 65 movements in 39 seconds before her heart rate stopped at 6:41pm on that day.
“The Apple Watch is more than just a watch — it records and keeps track of the wearer’s level of activity and the amount of energy they are using as they move through the day,” she said.
“The Apple Watch that Myrna Nilsson was wearing when she was attacked and passed away recorded her pulse, her step count and her energy expenditure.”
The court also heard that the accused’s three children — then aged 1, 3 and 5 — were at home at the time and the three hours that followed.
“How three children were kept quiet, contained and distracted while these events unfolded will no doubt be a question that occupies you,” she said.
She said hair samples taken from the children were tested and the two older children returned positive results for Tramadol — a pain relief drug that causes sedation and reduces emotional reactions.
In his closing address to the jury, Heath Barklay SC, for Ms Nilsson, said his client was a loving mother who had a good relationship with her mother-in-law and there was no evidence of animosity between them.
“You should have an unease about this prosecution case,” he told jurors.
“It just seems so inherently unlikely that this nice, loving mother is just going to turn into some sort of psychopath — kills her mother the moment she gets home, drugs her kids, searches the internet for a while, changes her bloody clothes and then presents as a victim.
“She is in love with her husband, she’s sending him nice text messages. This is minutes before she’s meant to turn into a cold-blooded killer.”