Mistrial declared in murder trial|[06/26/08]
Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2008
A Vicksburg man’s murder trial ended in mistrial Wednesday when jurors could not reach a unanimous decision, and prosecutors said they plan to try the case again.
Matthew Nash, 29, was returned to the Warren County Jail when a mistrial was recorded after jurors told 9th Circuit Court Judge Frank Vollor they could not agree on a verdict.
“Both sides in the case made great arguments, but some jurors thought one way and others thought another way,” said jury foreman Kyle Richards, 22. “It wasn’t a case we took lightly.”
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Richards declined to say what the vote count was and what points over which the jurors argued.
The 12 jurors deliberated five hours Wednesday after being handed evidence made public in testimony Tuesday in the trial that began Monday.
Nash and four other men, three of them his half-brothers, were charged with murder in the killing of 25-year-old Justin Maurice Harris, on June 17, 2007. The only one to go to trial previously, Anthony Trevillion, 31, was convicted on April 16, of murder, two counts of aggravated assault, shooting into an occupied dwelling and felony possession of a weapon. He was sentenced to life plus 53 years for the crimes.
Harris and Nash were first cousins, testimony revealed.
In testimony, Nash said he was at the house at 1226 Grammar St., where the killing occurred, only in an attempt to mediate the dispute among his family members.
He said he had no idea the men with him had any intention of killing Harris.
Charged along with Nash and Anthony Trevillion are Armond Trevillion, 28, and Alonzo Trevillion, 35, and Rufus Armstrong, 32, who police believe supplied the guns for the killing.
Investigators and prosecutors have said the killing occurred following a fight at a bar downtown, the New New Orleans Cafe.
Nash testified he was at work during the initial fight and was told about the ongoing dispute as the group headed to Harris’ address in the early-morning hours.
District Attorney Ricky Smith and Assistant District Attorney Dewey Arthur said in court there was no way Nash could not have known that his brothers had guns as they walked toward Harris’ home, noting they approached the house together before multiple Ak-47 rounds and one 12-gauge shotgun round were fired into the home.
Nash said it wasn’t until after the shots were fired that he realized two of his brothers, Anthony and Armond, were armed.
The prosecution also stressed throughout the trial that there was no reason for Nash and his brother to park their vehicle about 75 yards down the street, hidden near a bayou, before “walking up to the blind side of the home” if there were no intentions of violence.
Nash’s attorney, Eugene Perrier of Vicksburg, declined to comment on the hung jury, saying only that he and his client would wait to see a retrial is set.
Smith said a retrial would be definite, “And we will do it as soon as possible.”
No date had not been set.
Smith also noted that he respected the jurors’ decision, though he didn’t agree.
“I’m not sure what other evidence we needed to present in order to get a conviction,” he said. “But the jury couldn’t make its decision and that’s that.”
Harris’ family could not be reached for comment.
No trial dates have been set for Armond Trevillion, Alonzo Trevillion or Armstrong.