Some cases stick in the state’s craw enough that, despite an overturned conviction and a mistrial, prosecutors push on through a third trial to get their guy. Just ask Jacquan Shootes. Shootes was convicted last week on two counts of aggravated assault in Jacksonville for a 2007 shootout with police, according to the Florida Times-Union. Shootes has maintained since the start he thought he was being robbed and pulled a gun to protect himself, not knowing the man in military-style uniforms were police. Shootes was walking from his cousin’s Northwest Jacksonville home when two cars abruptly blocked his path and drew their weapons. Shootes fired, but never hit the officers.
Shootes was shot 18 times and now walks with a cane, the newspaper reported.
The state initially charged Shootes with attempted first-degree murder. A jury found him guilty of the lesser charges of aggravated assault and he was sentenced to 45 years in prison. But Shootes appealed and the higher court found the state tainted the jury by flooding the courtroom with uniformed officers, who filled the first two benches right in front of the jury box. The state tried again in 2010 and, once a jury could not reach a verdict, the judge declared a mistrial. This is called a “hung jury”. When a jury cannot agree on a verdict in Florida, the judge in the trial reads an instruction called “Jury Deadlock”. The judge tells the jury that they have to go back to the jury room and take turns telling each other their view until each juror has a chance to talk. They are instructed not to interrupt each other or comment on the other’s views until each of them has had the chance to talk. After everyone is done, if they cannot reach a verdict, they must inform the judge and the judge will declare the case mistried.
This week, a jury convicted Shootes. Any time that police are shot at, count on the state pressing forward at all costs. Police and prosecutors are on the same team and until there’s a “not guilty” verdict that legally ends it, the state will try it as many times as necessary to get the result it wants to hear. Our Jacksonville criminal defense firm has the experience and knows the relationships inside and out of the courthouse to help you know how hard the state will press, should you be charged with a crime.
If you need a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call Mussallem and Associate, PA at 904-365-5200 for a free consultation.