People v. Watkins trial ends in hung jury

A screenshot from the virtual courtroom shows Harry Watkins (front left), his defense counsel and the reset of the courtroom standing for the jury to enter Tuesday morning. 14th Judicial District Judge Mary Hoak released the jury after declaring a mistrial because they could not come to a unanimous decision.
Colorado 14th Judicial District Grand County Courtroom 1/Webex Screenshot

After nearly a week of court proceedings and over 14 hours of jury deliberations, the negligent homicide case of The People v. Harry Watkins ended in a mistrial. 14th Judicial District Judge Mary Hoak read a note from the jury around 10:35 a.m. Tuesday that stated the jurors were unable to come to a unanimous decision.

Hoak asked the counsels how they would like to proceed, and Chief Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Dowdell deferred to the court, while defense attorney David Jones moved for a mistrial. Hoak said the court would declare a mistrial and spoke about the case before bringing the jury into the courtroom.

Addressing the courtroom, Hoak said jury service is hard work, especially in a unique case like this. She said the question in this case was different than one asking if the defendant stole a car — it was more subjective; it was something people can have different beliefs about.

After bringing the jury back into the courtroom, Hoak thanked them for their service and told them she sometimes struggles with decisions — as a judge, she often has to make them when there is no jury. Hoak told the jurors they could talk about the case if they want to, but if they speak with her or the attorneys before being dismissed, they need to speak to both sides.

Hoak dismissed the jury for the last time, telling them they are welcome to call her if they want to discuss the case. The sides will meet on Oct. 6 for a status conference so they can discuss how to move forward.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify Judge Hoak’s directions to the jurors surrounding their ability to discuss the case.

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