A hung jury means a Georgia man jailed for 10 years must wait longer for a verdict on murder charges

25 July 2023

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — A man who has been jailed in Georgia for 10 years while awaiting trial for a 2013 drive-by shooting that killed two people and injured others will have to keep waiting for a verdict.

A Dougherty County jury was dismissed Monday after being unable to reach a verdict in Maurice Jimmerson’s long-delayed trial, WANF-TV reported.

The hung jury, after a two-week trial, meant that Jimmerson went back to jail in Albany, the city in southwestern Georgia where the shooting took place. Dougherty County District Attorney Gregory Edwards has said he will try the case again.

Jimmerson is being held on $400,000 bail on charges including felony murder, aggravated assault, possessing a gun during a felony and street gang activity, according to his lawyer, Andrew Fleischman of Atlanta. Jimmerson is also being held without bail on a separate charge of destroying a toilet in the Dougherty County jail.

Superior Court Judge Victoria Darrisaw has set a Aug. 8 hearing to consider setting a lower bail that might allow Jimmerson to get out of jail, Fleischman said.

The lawyer has also asked the judge to throw out the charges entirely, citing U.S. Supreme Court rulings that say cases can be dismissed if the state waits too long to try them. One such desicion from 1990 found an eight-and-a-half-year delay, for a defendant who was not in jail, was too long and violated the constitutional right to a speedy trial.

“I’m old fashioned,” Fleischman said. “I think people should be convicted of a crime before they’re punished. This is an unprecedented case. This is about a core constitutional right, the right to a speedy trial. The right to due process. And, when you see people denied that right, the public needs to know about it.”

Fleischman said Tuesday that no ruling on his motion to dismiss is likely for months. He took the case pro bono earlier this year after WANF-TV profiled Jimmerson’s situation.

Edwards said the pandemic and a flood in the courthouse were among the reasons for the delay.

“The bulk of the delay was beyond the control of anybody,” he said. “We’ve been making every effort to bring him to trial.”

Fleischman argues there’s not enough evidence for a conviction, noting that a jailhouse witness who came forward three years after the shooting has admitted he lied about seeing Jimmerson participate in it.

Jimmerson’s co-defendant, Condell Benyard, was jailed for seven years while awaiting trial. He was found not guilty of all 26 charges brought against him.

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