Daily Mail reports:
An Akansas murder trial had to be abandoned after jurors complained of a man taking photographs of them outside the courthouse.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Barry Sims declared a mistrial after two jurors said they were frightened by the man.
The judge said he was considering whether to take any action against the man, a cousin of defendant Michael Mitchell.
The request to halt the trial came from the defense, as defense attorney Bill Luppen said he believed that jurors could no longer be impartial about his client.
The trial of 20-year-old Mitchell ended just after both sides had delivered their opening statements, and has been rescheduled for April.
Sims said the jurors felt intimidated by the man, who stood outside the courtroom door and used a cellphone to take photographs of at least four jurors as they returned from lunch.
Mitchell was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree battery after a shooting in December 2014.
The incident, two days after Christmas, killed Troy Lee Holmes in his front yard in Stevenson Drive, and wounded Holmes’ teenage stepdaughter, Asia Lacey.
Mitchell claims that he is innocent because he was acting to protect his friends.
The defense claims 6-foot-2-inch, 257-pound Holmes lunged at Mitchell and his friends during a late-night altercation, which led to Mitchell firing at least three shots.
He did not immediately realize he had hit anyone, Luppen said.
Lacey sustained minor injuries caused by a bullet fragment that grazed her left thigh and embedded in her right thigh, the attorney said, telling jurors that Mitchell did not know anyone in the Holmes family and had only gone there with a friend, Shaheed Williams.
The altercation arose due to a feud between Williams’ girlfriend, Tatianna Curry, and Holmes’ cousin, Roderick Gulley, with whom she had had a child.
Deputy prosecutor Kimberly Woods told jurors that Holmes was a father and a husband who was protecting his home, and was shot in the back by Mitchell before he forced his way into the family home to pistol-whip Holmes’ wife and wound his stepdaughter.
After Sims dismissed the jury of 10 women and four men of the jury, the judge’s bailiff, Rod Bostic said the man taking the photographs was the defendant’s cousin, 39-year-old Kelton Deshon Ayers.
Ayers had left the courthouse by the time the judge was informed about the photographs, which Bostic had ordered him to delete.
Court records show that Ayers is on probation for felony battery and terroristic threatening convictions, and is scheduled to be sentenced November 16 for a probation violation.
He pleaded guilty to probation violations before Judge Mary McGowan in September.