BY MIKE FUHRMAN
A murder trial in Iredell County Superior Court ended in a mistrial Monday after a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for almost 10 hours over two days before telling the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked on seven charges against defendant Kevin Turner.
Turner, 29, was tried on one count of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in connection with a January 2018 shooting in Statesville that claimed the life of Freeman Jacobi Wells.
Before breaking for lunch on Monday, the jury sent Judge Greg Horne a note that foreshadowed the trial’s outcome.
“We are not close to a unanimous verdict,” the note said. “What is our next step?”
After the lunch break, the judge gave the jury the Allen charge, encouraging each juror to reconsider his or her views and then continue working toward a unanimous verdict.
The jury continued deliberating for 2.5 more hours before telling the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked about 3:45 p.m.
The jury was split 10-2. The foreman did not indicate whether the majority supported conviction or acquittal.
Judge Horne declared the mistrial about 4 p.m., ruling that there was “no reasonable probability” of the jury reaching a unanimous verdict on an of the charges.
It was not immediately clear how soon Turner could stand trial again before a new jury.
Over seven days of testimony that included 19 witnesses and more than 200 exhibits, Assistant District Attorney Mikko Red Arrow attempted to convince the jury that Turner was part of a group of men that opened fire on a Statesville home in the early morning hours of January 6, 2018.
More than 70 rounds from as many as nine firearms were fired at the home at 524 Hickory Avenue around 3 p.m. Two bullets struck Wells, including a round from a mini Draco that hit him in the head, causing a destructive brain injury. He died later that day in a Winston-Salem hospital.
Citing witness testimony, Red Arrow told the jury in his closing argument that the shooting was “payback” for an earlier incident in which one of the co-defendants was shot. Members of the group believed Wells was responsible for the earlier shooting, which occurred at a house party in November of 2017.
Defense attorney John Basinger argued that the prosecution had failed to provide credible evidence that Turner was at the scene and that he participated in the shooting.
A total of 12 people face murder charges in connection with Wells’ death. Turner was the first to stand trial.
Turner remains jailed on $450,000 secured bond
After the jury was released, the defense attorney asked Judge Horne to consider releasing Turner on an unsecured bond, possibly with electronic monitoring. Basinger cited his client’s strong family ties, his previous success while on probation and good conduct during the trial — as well as the fact that he has been incarcerated since June of 2018 — in support of his request for a bond reduction.
Along with the evidence offered at trial, the prosecutor argued that no changes should be made to Turner’s bond. If he is released, Turner faces a parole violation charge in Virginia related to an armed robbery conviction, Red Arrow said. While awaiting trial, Turner was also involved in an altercation in the Iredell County Detention Center that led to charges of resisting a public officer.
“Nothing has changed,” the prosecutor said. “He got his day in court. He’ll get another day in court.”
After considering the attorneys’ arguments and the evidence he heard at trial, Judge Horne determined that Turner’s $450,000 secured bond was “low” based on his experience with cases involving similar charges. He let the bond at $450,000.