The classic “some other dude did it” defense actually worked this time. Portions from the Times Dispatch:
“Circuit Judge Beverly W. Snukals declared a mistrial after the jury deliberated about four hours and failed to reach a unanimous verdict. The defendant, Anthony Singleton, 20, is charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in a felony. The trial started Thursday….”
“Prosecutors argued that Singleton shot 20-year-old Thomas H. Scott Jr. four times in the back outside the school at North 31st and East Marshall streets. One witness testified that she saw Singleton shoot Scott.”
“But Singleton, who said he was the victim’s friend, testified Thursday that he saw another male shoot Scott, and that Singleton then picked up the victim’s gun and chased the shooter into an alley.”
“Defense attorney James L. McLemore argued that police searched the alley and found a gun that was not the one used in the homicide.”
“McLemore also pointed out that Singleton returned to the crime scene, where he was arrested. The defendant had no gunshot residue on either hand, McLemore said.”
“Prosecutors said that Singleton told police three different stories and that, until Thursday’s testimony, he had never claimed that he saw the shooting.”
“Singleton testified that he lied to police because he was scared that snitching could get him hurt.”
“I didn’t know what to do, what to say — I was totally lost,” Singleton said. “I couldn’t help it. I was scared.”
“As he left the witness stand and returned to his seat at the defense table, Singleton lifted his shirt to wipe tears from his face.”
“Anthony and his family are very disappointed the jury could not reach a verdict,” McLemore said. “We thought we had a good case.”
“Prosecutors said they are evaluating how to proceed. Singleton remains in jail with no bond.”
So sad on many different levels. Sounds like a pretty good defense, depending upon how strong and detailed was the eye witness. Did she actually see him pull the trigger? Or did she just see him there after hearing gunshots. The story sounds implausible, hey, I’m gonna pick up a gun and chase into an alley after a dude with a gun. But going back to the scene with no gunpowder residue is strong. Sounds to me as though there were holes in the case. Which gun was the murder weapon? Any prints on the “other weapon”? Any motive?
I hate to criticize a judge, but to me waiting only 4 hours to declare a mistrial was pathetic. Let them scream and argue for days if necessary. This is a man’s life on the line. If those jurors can’t hash out their differences in four hours, make them come back and deliberate Saturday. I’ve been at trials that lasted until 2:30 a.m. I’ve sat and listened to jurors screaming and hollering at each other–so loud that you could hear them through a closed door and at the far end of the court room. I’ve had to beg, plead and cajole a judge not to declare a mistrial (he had to get home to some grand kid’s birthday party or some such nonsense).
The Constitution says a man can only be prosecuted once for the same crime. I know, that prohibition has been interpreted (wrongly in my opinion) to not apply to mistrials. But even so the idea behind it is not advanced by only allowing a jury to deliberate for 4 hours. Sure, it was Friday and they all wanted to go home. TOUGH. Make ’em stay and fight it out. A man’s life hung in the balance. Now he’s back in the slammer and awaiting a fate from a different jury, hopefully one that won’t punt their obligation.