Bulloch Local News Courts

Ashlyn Griffin Murder Trial: Jury Pauses Deliberations Due to Lack of Progress

A clock appears in the foreground of the Bulloch County judicial annex

Jurors halted deliberations due to a lack of progress Wednesday afternoon on Day 3 of the Ashlyn Griffin murder trial in Bulloch County.

The pause in deliberation followed numerous questions by the jury, requests to revisit evidence, and apparent confusion over the charges regarding the death of Brandon McCray.

Wednesday morning began with closing arguments from Assistant District Attorney Barclay Black and defense attorney Mitchell Warnock. Ahead of the lunch hour, Judge F. Gates Peed provided jury instructions before he sent jurors into the deliberation room. Though Griffin was indicted on Felony Murder and Aggravated Assault charges, the jury was also charged on considering the lesser offenses of Voluntary Manslaughter and Involuntary Manslaughter. Those offenses, both felonies, carry a sentence of one to twenty years in prison and one to ten years respectively.

Deliberations

2:00 P.M. – After 45 minutes of deliberations, jurors asked to again view video of Griffin’s reenactment with detective. They returned to the courtroom to watch two videos totaling approximately 35 minutes.

2:40 P.M. – Five minutes passed in deliberations before jurors had another question. They desired to see the transcript of the state’s cross examination of Griffin on Tuesday. As transcripts are not immediately available, Judge Peed instructed them to ‘rely on their collective memory of testimony.’ 

3:10 P.M. – Jurors deliberated for thirty minutes before asking another question about Griffin’s statement to Statesboro Police. Specifically, jurors wanted to know her comment made about her location at the time of the second shot. Peed instructed them to review exhibits in the deliberation room and rely on their recollection of testimony. 

3:50 P.M. – More questions came at 3:50 p.m when jurors told the court:

It’s too hot in here!!
What do the charges mean?
Instructions judge read at the end?

Peed told jurors the air would be adjusted for their comfort, but that the second two points needed more specificity.

3:55 p.m – The questions returned as: 

What is voluntary manslaughter?
What is involuntary manslaughter?
What is self-defense?

The questions appeared to surprise the court, the state, and the defense. Judge Peed suggested recharging the jury with nine pages of context on the ‘substantive charges’ to avoid cherry-picking a few words out of context. Both the state and the defense agreed to that resolution.

4:02 p.m.- The jury returned for recharging on the “substantive charges.” These included:

  • Felony Murder – in that she committed a felony of Aggravated Assault when she shot McCray and he subsequently died,
  • Aggravated Assault,
  • Voluntary Manslaughter,
  • Involuntary Manslaughter,
  • Reckless Conduct.
  • The forcible felony of Aggravated Assault by Strangulation,
  • Self-Defense,
  • Use of Deadly Force, and
  • Excessive Force.

Peed told jurors that while the legalese was ‘not simple to grasp,’ the jury charges were written in a way that they would be self-explanatory. 

4:53 p.m – The jury knocked to notify the court of another question. Given the lateness of the hour and the substance of the question, which Peed did not read aloud, the jury foreman appeared before the judge.

Peed asked the following questions:

Is the jury making progress at the present time?
No.
Do you think any progress could be made by continuing to deliberate right now?
No.
Would it be a better action to take a break, clear heads, and resume in the morning? Please confer with the body and let the court know.

After a few minutes, the foreperson returned to report that the jury desired to go home.

Judge Peed returned the jury to the courtroom and instructed them not to confer about the case with anyone or conduct any independent research. Deliberations will resume at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Jessica Szilagyi

administrator
Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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