Second Mistrial Declared in James Sandidge Murder Case; Prosecutors to Try Him Third Time

Judge Lynn Leibovitz declared a mistrial Tuesday in the case against James Sandidge after the jury repeatedly sent notes explaining that they were deadlocked.

This is the second jury that has been unable to render a verdict for Sandidge in connection with the October 2011 shooting death of Kennan Jerel Lee. An earlier trial was deadlocked in July, 2013.

Sandidge remains held without bond and charged with second-degree murder. He was initially charged with first-degree murder.

This jury has deliberated since March 19. Jurors said after the trial that many of them thought that Sandidge was at the scene and that he was probably the shooter, but they expressed concerns that there was no physical evidence to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt. On Tuesday the jury foreperson told the court that there was no use in continuing deliberations, but did disclose that ten of the 12 jurors were prepared to acquit Sandidge of second-degree murder.

“We intend to retry [the trial] because we have a reasonable expectation of success,” said Assistant US Attorney George Pace.

Prosecutors argued that Sandidge used excessive force, shooting four times after Lee punched a man that Sandidge was with. Defense attorney Jonathan Zucker argued that the witnesses were admitted liars and there was no physical evidence that placed Sandidge at the argument.

According to testimony, Lee was out with friends Mikel Barnes and Raymond McLean near Howard University for homecoming weekend to find women to hang out with. They were drinking that day and Barnes said Lee got into arguments with several people at a McDonald’s.

After they left McDonald’s, they parked across the street from Howard Unniversity Hospital and stood outside their car. Three men approached, one of whom being Sandidge, and the two groups began a verbal altercation which escalated when Lee punched one of the men, according to prosecutors.

Barnes testified that he recognized Sandidge from middle school, and said that Sandidge was the one who shot Lee. Barnes admitted to lying in the first trial about a detective telling him that Sandidge had confessed, but Sandidge did not confess.

Judge Leibovitz denied a motion to release Sandidge to a supervision or probation program following the mistrial.

A status hearing is scheduled for April 15.

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