Mistrial declared in Kevon Neal vehicular manslaughter trial
Updated: January 9, 2014 - 06:04 pm
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJLA) - A mistrial has been declared in the trial of a man accused of leading a high-speed police chase that ended in the death of a Prince George's County Police officer.
The trial of Kevon Neal, who was on trial for vehicular manslaughter in the death of Ofc. Adrian Morris, abruptly ended Thursday just three days after it began.
A new trial will likely take place in either May or June, officials say.
Neal is accused of leading Morris on a high-speed chase in August of 2012 on Interstate 95 after police believe he and another man, Kenneth Mitchell, snatched a woman's purse at a gas station.
The chase reached speeds of up to 100 mph, Morris' partner testified, before their cruiser careened off the highway. Morris was killed at the scene.
The actions of juror Darvida Caldwell during deliberations led to Thursday's mistrial, the State's Attorney's office says. The case went to the jury at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, but later that night, the judge received an email from Caldwell, who claimed that she could not judge another person because of their religious beliefs.
Later, in a discussion between Caldwell, the judge and attorneys from both sides, the juror also claimed that they "did not have a dog in this fight" and therefore could not pass judgment on Neal.
Officials say that she did not bring up that or her Jehovah's Witness background during jury selection.
Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks called the juror's actions a "complete disgrace" in a statement.
"Our citizens deserve to have safe communities and one of the ways we ensure that happens is for them to sit as jurors and decide who they feel should or should not be allowed to walk our streets," Alsobrooks said.
Caldwell had no comment after the proceedings, but officials had continued, strong words for her conduct.
"It's really frustrating to the men and women of the police department," Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw said.
Mitchell pleaded guilty last October to the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to time served.