Attorneys argue over jury verdict in Augusta murder case

Jury fails to get verdict on single charge

 

A Richmond County man will be retried after a jury failed to reach a verdict on one charge against him.

Devin Washington’s defense attorney, Jacque Hawk, insisted Monday that his client should not stand trial a second time, but Judge Sheryl B. Jolly agreed with the prosecutor and denied the motion. The verdict announced in court was that the jury deadlocked on the charge of felony murder and the judge declared a mistrial on that count of the indictment.

Hawk pointed out that the jury’s written verdict form said it found Washington not guilty of felony murder, but couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter. Any retrial should be on the manslaughter charge, not murder, he said.

Hawk also wanted to present three jurors – who said the vote was to acquit Washington of felony murder – as witnesses, but Assistant District Attorneys Natalie Paine and Hank Syms objected.

Once published in court, a verdict is final and cannot be impeached, and allowing jurors to second-guess their decision afterward would create a never-ending circuit, they countered.

Hawk said jurors weren’t changing their decision, only seeking to make it clear.

“What are you so afraid of?” he asked.

Washington, 20, and former co-defendant Marcus Washington, 23, were tried together last month on murder and weapon charges for the July 5 death of 22-year-old Pr’shawn Williams, who was shot during a gun battle between the men outside a Gordon Highway club.

Marcus Washington was acquitted on malice and felony murder charges. Both men were convicted of weapon violations. Marcus Washington was sentenced to three years in prison and two additional years on probation. Devin Washington, who was on probation for aggravated assault at the time of the slaying, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Hawk said he would seek an appellate court decision on the issue, but Jolly would have to grant permission for that. Devin Washington is scheduled to stand trial on the felony murder charge next week.

 

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