WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — Two days of deliberations, and a Washington County jury is still undecided. The fate of three former sheriff’s deputies remains unknown.
Halfway through the second day of deliberations, the jury passed a note to Judge H. Gibbs Flanders reading, “We went over all the evidence and cannot come to a unanimous decision.” The jury previously suggested they were conflicted. On Friday, they asked the judge what would happen if they could not reach a verdict. One juror asked to be dismissed due to their “emotions.”
Judge Flanders has asked the jury to continue deliberating. On Monday, he invoked the Allen Charge, in which a judge encourages a jury to continue working toward a verdict. They are not required to reach a verdict but urged to continue their discussions. Defense attorney Shawn Merzlak objected to the move, but Flanders moved forward.
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“The court is going to ask that you return to the jury room and continue to deliberate in good faith, as I am confident you will do your very best to do,” Flanders said to the jury.
Former deputies Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott are facing several charges in connection with Martin’s death — two counts of felony murder, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless conduct. Martin died in their custody after being tased repeatedly in July 2017. Judge Flanders has advised the jury to review charges for each defendant independently, meaning each man could be convicted or acquitted of different charges.
Shortly after the jury announced they were unable to come to a unanimous decision, they asked for a new verdict sheet for Howell. He was the first deputy to arrive on scene.
Deliberations will continue Tuesday at 9 a.m.