In the case of Joseph Weekley, a mistrial has been declared. Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley is accused of felony involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm, which resulted in the death of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones.
On 3:00 pm Tuesday the jury returned from deliberation and declared that they had not reached a unanimous decision. Earlier in the afternoon, Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway received notification that the jury was deadlocked. However she requested that they work toward reaching a verdict.
As reported by USA Today, the jury remained deadlocked, informing the judge that a conclusive decision could not be reached. Judge Hathaway announced the mistrial, devastating Aiyana’s family and friends.
Joseph Weekley’s mistrial followed eight days of testimony and jury deliberations which began last Friday.
The sleeping Aiyana Jones was shot when a Detroit SWAT team entered her home to execute a warrant for murder. Weekley contends that the shooting was accidental, as someone bumped into his gun during the raid.
Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran contends that Weekley failed to use “ordinary care” with his weapon.
As reported by the Detroit Free Press, jurors felt there were several questionable issues. Several jurors, speaking after the mistrial was declared, explained that use of the word “willful” was a main point of contention.
Some jurors felt that by definition, an accident cannot be considered “willful.” Others questioned Weekley’s intent, insisting that accidental shootings are rare.
To add to the confusion, jurors were instructed that if the discharge was willful, it could not be considered a “careless discharge.”
Jurors also had a difficult time believing either of the key witnesses. They explained that stories presented by Weekley and Aiyana Jones’ grandmother, Mertilla Jones, were equally questionable.
Roland Lawrence of the Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee believes the jury’s indecision was caused by race. He explained that only one juror was African American. Lawrence states that he and the committee had “no confidence in this jury,” as soon as they realized the racial disparity.
Joseph Weekley’s mistrial means the end of one trial, and the potential for another in the future. As Aiyana’s family continues to mourn her death, they have resolved to not give up until Weekley is convicted.