Hung Jury in Charlottesville Murder Trial

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

March 6, 2006

A judge was forced to call a mistrial today in the murder trial of Billy Marshall Jr.

After two days of deliberations the seven men and five women said they just could not come to an agreement.

One juror leaving the courtroom said,“The big question was, 'what was reasonable doubt?'”

After twelve hours of deliberating, jurors still weren't convinced it was Billy Marshall Jr.who strangled Azlee Hickman in March 2004.

“I think we all believe that Azlee was strangled that night in the trailer but there were some that felt somebody else may have actually done it,” said Jury Foreman David Randle.

The jury was split; five favoring convicting, and seven voting to acquit.

“Ronnie Powell's testimony was a significant detriment to the prosecution,” said juror Raman Pfaff.

Powell and his daughter Heather were both in the trailer the night Azlee died. They testified against Marshall. But the stories they told on the stand didn't match up to statements they gave police, and the jury just couldn't piece together the truth.

“I think everybody was just kind of feeling bad that we couldn't get to a verdict. It was a difficult case,” said Randle.

Difficult not just for the jurors but also for Azlee Hickman's parents, who are still wondering what happened to their daughter.

“I wish they could have gotten some sort of resolution and understand what happened to their daughter back there, but unfortunately the only people who know are the people who testified and it just wasn't clear from what they said exactly what happened,” said Marshall’s defense attorney Charles Weber.

Commonwealth Attorney Dave Chapman had no comment about today's mistrial.

Billy Marshall will remain behind bars awaiting a new trial. The judge will set the date for the new trial on April 17.

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