A deadlocked jury prompted a judge to declare a mistrial Wednesday in the second trial of a man accused of gunning down a father and his adult son at a Golden Hill bus stop nearly eight years ago.
The panel acquitted 41-year-old Marlon Johnson of first-degree murder in the Jan. 9, 2011, death of 49-year-old Darryl Hunter. But jurors told Judge Runston Maino that they were deadlocked 10-2 for guilt on second-degree murder charges involving Hunter and couldn’t come to a unanimous decision on first-degree murder charges regarding 30-year-old Keith Butler.
A different jury in July voted 8-4 to convict Johnson of murdering both Hunter and Butler.
Deputy District Attorney Valerie Summers said she would try Johnson a third time as long as the judge doesn’t dismiss the unresolved charges.
As he did after the first trial, Maino urged Johnson to consider taking a plea deal so he wouldn’t risk the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.
In both trials, Summers told the jury that the evidence against Johnson — including cigarette butts with his DNA on them, cell phone tower data and eyewitness accounts — was circumstantial, but should be enough to convict the defendant of murder, a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, the use of a gun and shooting into an inhabited vehicle, wounding the driver.
The victims had gone to Butler’s girlfriend’s apartment the night they died. They visited with the woman for about an hour before Hunter decided to leave, and Butler left to accompany his father to the nearby bus stop at 30th and C streets about 8 p.m., Summers said.
About 20 minutes later, Butler, Hunter and a passing motorist were hit by gunfire. Butler ran back to the apartment and told his girlfriend to call 911. He then collapsed, gravely wounded. Both Hunter and Butler died at a hospital.
Johnson was identified early in the investigation as a potential suspect, but detectives did not have enough evidence to charge him until 2016, when they said new evidence allegedly implicated him in the double homicide.
Defense attorney Kevin Haughton said no one identified Johnson as the shooter and the evidence linked him only to the scene, not the crime.
— City News Service