COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Four years after Javion Shorter was shot to death on his 18th birthday, the murder trial for three people accused of killing him has hit one snag after another this week.
Tuesday a majority of the jury was stuck on a Government Center elevator for almost an hour.
Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Ben Land spent a chunk of the day considering a mistrial motion he eventually denied.
Co-defendants Javon McClendon, Nashira Miller, and Daijon Williams are standing trial, accused of killing Shorter.
With the jury selected and opening statements set for Tuesday afternoon, up to 12 members of the jury were stuck in a Government Center elevator.
When they escaped, Land sent them home for the day and moved the trial to the jury assembly room on the bottom floor. Superior Court Judge Ben Land addressed the issue Wednesday morning in the makeshift courtroom.
“The circumstances of yesterday, I felt it was best not to make y’all get back on an elevator in this building,” Land told the jury. “So, that’s why we are here. I hope you understand. I hope you were able to go home, get something to eat, rest, decompress, relax and are ready to go this morning.”
They didn’t go long before another issue arose.
Assistant District Attorney Chance Hardy referenced a statement made by McClendon that implicated Williams in the murder. Land had issued instructions for it not to be mentioned.
Williams’ attorney asked for a mistrial saying the statement was prejudicial. Attorneys representing Miller and McClendon wanted to continue. One legal remedy was to mistrial the whole case.
Land called Hardy’s statement a “blunder by counsel.” But let the trial continue because he said if he granted a mistrial for Miller and McClendon there was a chance they could not be retried and would walk.
The jury had to wait for several hours while Land and the lawyers worked through the legal issues. Back to you guys.
Land pointed out this was the first time a trial had been held in the jury gathering space but praised sheriff’s deputies and court personnel for getting it ready for trial.