A Virginia woman convicted of killing her mother and sister in 2017 and staging it to look like a murder-suicide in their $1.3 million home in upscale McLean is getting a new trial because of juror misconduct.
On March 28, 2022, jurors voted unanimously to convict Megan Hargan of McLean in the shooting deaths of her mother, Pamela Hargan, 63, a successful defense contractor executive, and her younger sister, Helen Hargan, 23, a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University.
Megan, 39, was found guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison.
It was later revealed that one of the jurors, Tasha Nix, told a defense team investigator that during the trial she went home and used a rifle to test the defense theory that Helen used her toe to pull the trigger on the shotgun to take her own life, NBC Washington reports.
She concluded that this was not possible, especially since the medical examiner determined that Helen was shot in the top of the head.
During deliberations, Nix told other jurors what she had found.
Megan’s defense attorneys argued that reenacting the shooting was equivalent to jury misconduct since the judge had instructed jurors not to conduct outside research, NBC Washington reports.
Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano has vowed to retry Megan.
“We are disappointed that a juror’s inappropriate actions led to this double murder conviction being vacated. We are still committed to getting justice for the victims of this crime,” Descano said in a statement Wednesday.
“My office will move forward and prepare for the new trial,” Descano said.
Pamela’s sister, Tammy North, who is Megan and Helen’s aunt, tells PEOPLE she is upset at the turn of events.
“I’m beyond sick,” she says.
Greed and jealousy drove Megan to kill her mother and sister, Descano said in a statement in March.
“Evidence submitted at trial revealed Megan Hargan was angry because she thought her mother favored her sister, Helen, and because Pamela did not make a $400,000 wire transfer to purchase a home for Megan,” he said.
Helen’s boyfriend, Carlos Gutierrez, testified that on the day of the slayings, Helen said Megan was “on the computer transferring money,” NBC4 Washington reports.
He was on the phone with Helen, begging her to get out of the house.
“She told me her sister had killed her mother,” Gutierrez told the court, NBC Washington reported.
He testified that she didn’t want to leave or call 911 because she feared for her niece, Megan’s 8-year-old daughter, who was somewhere in the house.
“She was saying she didn’t know what to do,” he testified. She said the little girl “was in the house as well and she didn’t know how to get her out.”
He said he could hear Helen sobbing.
At some point, Gutierrez lost contact with Helen and tried calling her back.
But she never answered.