Highway shootings trial ends with hung jury

The trial of highway shooter Carles McCoy has ended in a mistrial. The declaration came after jurors reported they were deadlocked and could not reach a unanimous verdict.

So after two weeks of testimony and four days of deliberations, the case of returns nearly to square one.

Nearing the end of the 4th full day of deliberations, and after 28 and a half hours discussing the case jurors sent a note to Judge Charles Schneider saying they were deadlocked.

The jurors could not reach a unanimous decision on whether Charles McCoy was legally insane at the time of the highway shootings.

Judge Schneider read the so-called Howard Charge – named for a defendant in a 1989 deadlocked jury case. The judge asked them to reconsider their positions and try again to reach a verdict

After another hour, the jury returned to the courtroom.. still deadlocked. A couple jurors were visibly upset. A woman juror in the front row wipe tears from her eyes as the judge praised the panel for their hard work and then sent them home. The trial ended without a verdict.

McCoy is charged in several shootings that occurred near Columbus area highways in 2003 and 2004. He’s charge with murder in the death of Gail Knisley who was struck by a bullet as she rode in a car on the south outerbelt.

McCoy if found guilty could have faced the death penalty. But his attorney’s argued that McCoy was not guilty by reason of insanity. They argued McCoy, who suffers from diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia, could not tell right from wrong.

After the Mistrial, Franklin county Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said he was not disappointed and praised the jury’s committment to the case.

Defense attorney Mark Collins seemed not to know what to say. “This jury has been to hell and back,” Collins said.

Only his co-counsel Michael Miller was disappointed. “I believe in my heart that not guilty by reason of insanity was the right verdict in the case,” Miller said.

Now the case heads to a possible second trial with new challenges. The trial was carried live on court TV was often front page news in the Dispatch and was often the lead story on local radio and television news casts. Judge Schneider is concerned about its effects.

The publicity raises the posibilty that a second trial would be moved to a venue outside of Franklin County.

Prosecution strategy might change after the mistrial. Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says they will look again at whether to ask for the death penalty for McCoy.

The son of Gail Knisley told the Associated Press the victim’s family was disappointed by the outcome. Charles McCoy’s parents waited through the deliberations and watched as the jury was sent home. Charles McCoy senior made a brief statement for him and the suspect’s mother. McCoy said he and McCoy’s mother continue to feel for his son and the Knisley family.

McCoy’s Attorney’s and Prosecutors are due in court Tuesday morning for a Pre-Trial hearing for what could be the second highway shootings trial.

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