Saturday was an eventful day in the capital murder trial of Lance Shockley.....Shockley's defense team filed a motion for a mistrial---and the jury deadlocked during the penalty phase of the trial.
A Carter County jury found Shockley guilty Friday of Highway Patrol Sgt. Carl Dewayne Graham's March 2005 death, but during the penalty phase of the trial yesterday (03-28-09) the defense team filed a motion for a mistrial, citing juror misconduct.
Prosecutors proved to the jury that Shockley gunned down Sgt. Graham in the driveway of his Van Buren home on March 20, 2005,because he was investigating Shockley for leaving the scene of a November 2004 car crash that killed his best friend, Jeffrey Bayless.
Sgt. Graham was still in uniform, having just completed his shift.
Attorney Bradford Kessler, who is the lead attorney on Shockley's defense team, told Judge Evans that one of the juror's (the foreperson) was a published author of a fictional book that had some similarities to the case, and is the father of a police officer.
Presiding Circuit Court Judge David Evans denied the motion, but replaced the juror in question with an alternate juror.
The jury began deliberating whether Shockley should receive the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole about 3:20 p.m. Saturday.
A little after six p.m., the jury sent out a question asking what to do if it could not agree on a sentence.....by 6:30 they sent out an "unable to decide or agree" jury form.
Evans said the jury had unanimously agreed on three aggravating circumstances it had been asked to consider while deciding on a sentence; they agreed that Graham was a peace officer exercising his duty at the time of his death and was a potential witness in a pending investigation....but found no mitigating factors.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that a jury, not a judge alone, must find that at least one aggravating circumstance exists in order for a judge to impose a death penalty.
Kessler told the jury that they accepted their decision, but pleaded with them to let Shockley live for the sake of his children and family.
Sgt. Graham had written a letter and left it with co-workers in his troop,
saying that if he ever died in the line of duty, he would want people to know he died doing what he loved.
Judge Evans released the jury from their service and will pronounce sentence on Shockley April 27th.