Markale Hart Murder Case Ends in Mistrial
The Markale Hart murder trial ends in a mistrial.
Hart is accused of shooting and killing Auburn football player Jakell Mitchell at a party in 2014.
A few reasons led up to this point:
Tuesday, a juror got sick and asked Lee County Circuit Judge Christopher Hughes in the afternoon if they could leave to go to the doctor. That juror was out with the flu Wednesday.
And after the course of four days, it was made clear, they weren’t get anywhere in their deliberation and weren’t close to reaching a verdict.
Hung jury was one of the reasons for a mistrial, but also there was some jury misconduct.
It was stated that one of the jurors looked up some laws in reference to the trial and made some statements in front of the other jurors. That juror then took the stand and lied under oath about it. But, later came back and admitted to doing some outside research.
These reasons led to a mistrial.
Both the prosecution and the defense said they did not expect this outcome.
“It’s disappointing the amount of work we put into it, Auburn Police Division put into it, the victim’s family, who waited three years for this to come and it ends up being a mistrial. It’s discouraging, but we won’t be deterred and we will try him again,” said Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes.
“We are disappointed. We were expecting a not guilty verdict and we are still expecting that in retrial. It’s unfortunate because someone made a poor judgement and deliberation had to be halted,” said Markale Hart’s Defense Attorney Jerry Blevins.
But, both sides said they will be ready for the new trial.
“This was a complicated case and there’s a lot to take in. Good thing is, it’s a not guilty verdict. So, we have an opportunity to hold Mr. Hart accountable for shooting Jakell Mitchell and that’s what we are going to do,” said Hughes.
“We had a few snags with the jury charges, juror getting sick, juror doing things they shouldn’t have done, but the result will be the same and we are confident it will be a not guilty verdict,” said Blevins.
Even though this trial did not get a verdict, Blevins believed they came out on top.
“If this is not a case of self defense, what is? So, we are confident that it was one or two hold outs that stomped the jury whether deliberations would have taken a few hours or another day or so those jurors would have come around and said not guilty,” said Blevins.
One of the questions the jurors had during their deliberation was Alabama’s Self Defense Law and could Hart defend himself and others. They said that wasn’t made clear in the defense’s argument.
Blevins said that will be addressed clearly the next go around.
The prosecution said they are still seeking the murder charge, same indictment, same everything. They’ll represent the evidence again and they say hopefully they’ll have a better outcome next time.
Blevins also requested another bond for Hart, but Judge Hughes denied it. Judge Hughes said, though, they can file a written motion. But, Blevins said they’ll think on it because they aren’t optimistic it will be granted.
Blevins also added he will continue to represent Hart in the retrial.
Hart will be on Lee County’s next trial docket which is scheduled for February 2018.