Judge declares mistrial in murder caseBy DEMETRIUS THOMPSON,
The first trial for one of nine suspects that were indicted in the murder of a Newton man in March 2017 ended in a mistrial on Thursday in the Newton County Eighth District Circuit Court.
Jordan D’Mark Myers, 18, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the killing of Jamarcus Townsend, 21, who was found shot dead outside a home at 113 Tillman St. just before midnight on March 17.
A jury was chosen that morning and the jury heard testimony from Newton Police Chief Harvey Curry, Newton Police Capt. Johnny Martin and Newton County Sheriff’s Deputy Kris Hollingsworth for around four hours.
However, it was discovered at around 3 p.m. that several of the jurors had violated the court’s rules about having cell phones while in the jury box.
“Members of the jury were told not to bring in cell phones. During the trial, some of them noticed cell phone use in the audience,” said Eighth District Attorney Steven Kilgore. “Apparently, they discussed this observation during a break and one of the jurors said they were afraid the person was taking the jurors’ pictures.”
Because the Townsend’s death is believed to be gang-related, some of the jurors feared retaliation.
One of the members of the audience was brought into the Judge Chris Collins’ chambers and questioned. There was no picture taking going on, but after questioning the jurors about the events there was a consensus that they were afraid. Public defender Mitch Thomas moved for a mistrial and the Judge Collins granted it.
Kilgore said his office intended to retry the case at the next Circuit Court trial session in August.
Lyndale Jones, Dontay Chapman and Richard Lofton are each charged with first degree murder for shooting of Townsend and are believed to be the actual triggermen.
In the coming weeks, Newton police also arrested Jordan D’Mark Myers, Devon Dequion Thompson, Robert Shadon Bender, Darron LaShuan Thames, Ashton Myota Thompson and Jessica Jean Powers in connection with the homicide that NPD Chief Harvey Curry said was gang related.
Jones, Chapman, and Lofton are all charged with first degree murder and were all denied bail by Circuit Court Judge Christopher Collins.
LaShuan Thames is charged with conspiracy to commit murder and as an accessory to murder after the fact. Devon Thompson, Robert Shadon Bender, Ashton Thompson and Jessica Jean Powers are all charged with being accessories to murder after the fact.
According to the indictment, Bender and Devon Thompson helped clean the vehicle that was used by Jones, Chapman and Lofton in the shooting and helped them dispose of evidence.
According to the indictment, Ashton Thompson and Powers transported Myers and Lofton outside of the county so they could avoid arrest.