Mistrial declared in Tallulah man’s sexual battery trial

Published 11:28 am Thursday, April 5, 2012

A mistrial was declared Wednesday in the case of a Tallulah man accused of sexual battery.

Jimmy Dean Knight, 54, 1404 Florida St., faced charges of sexual battery of a child younger than 14 in a trial that began Monday in front of Ninth District Circuit Judge M. James Chaney.

Jurors began deliberating around 2:05 p.m. Wednesday and were dismissed about 7 p.m. after they told Chaney they could not agree on a verdict.

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Jurors voted 9-3 for acquittal, court documents show.

Knight was indicted in January and is represented by Vicksburg attorney John Bullard. Knight is accused of raping a 5-year-old boy in Warren County in January 2011.

Bullard argued that the family of the boy conspired against Knight because they owed him $325 for fixing their car. Bullard pointed strongly to a four-day delay in when the alleged abuse occurred and when it was reported.

“The delay in this case is extremely bothersome to me,” Bullard said during closing arguments.

There also was no DNA evidence and the night the abuse is alleged to have occurred, no one heard anything in the family’s two-bedroom apartment, Bullard said.

Prosecutors Lane Campbell and Tom Setser argued that Knight was the only possible suspect for the abuse and that the boy, who testified, remembered very specific details.

In order to commit a conspiracy against Knight, the family would have to have a vast knowledge of medical and Department of Human Services practices, Campbell argued. Family members also had no time to concoct the story because the boy told of abuse as soon as he was away from Knight, Campbell said.

“When would they have a chance to tell [the boy] that?” Campbell asked the jury.

The case will be put on the docket again when a date becomes available, but it will be up to the family of the boy if it goes to trial again, Setser said.

The jury sent out a note with a question about 4 p.m., Campbell said, and another note came out about 5:30 p.m. By 6:30, the jurors sent out a note that they were hopelessly deadlocked, Campbell said.