Partial Verdict in “21st and Vietnam” Murder Case Rejected

After three weeks of deliberating, jurors in the “21st and Vietnam” murder trial announced partial verdicts Wednesday morning on two of the four defendants, but the judge assigned to the case refused to accept their ruling when jurors on one of the verdicts did not appear to be unanimous and the other verdict was read in a confusing manner.

The verdicts related to Johnnie Harris and Jekwan Smith. It is not clear what the intended verdicts— or charges they corresponded to— were.

Harris and Smith, along with Anthony Hatton and Stanley Moghalu, are alleged to be members of a crew called “21st and Vietnam,” and are charged with the deaths of Tyrell Fogle, Isaiah Sheffield and Steven Moore.

Deliberations in the case have been plagued with problems. Three jurors have been dismissed from service during deliberations and alternates appointed in their places.

On Tuesday evening jurors announced they had reached a partial verdict on charges against Harris and Smith; Judge Henry Greene elected to hear the verdicts the following morning due to the late hour and time necessary to assemble the attorneys in the case.

Wednesday morning, when Judge Greene polled the jury on their verdict on Harris, one juror said she did not agree with the verdict read by the foreperson. Polling ended and the jury was instructed to continue deliberating on that charge.

When a verdict was read for Smith, the foreperson read the verdict one way, then reversed it. Because of the confusion, jurors were instructed to continue deliberating on that charge as well.

Defense motions for mistrial were denied.

Jurors in the case are expected back to continue deliberating on Thursday.

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