One convicted, one facing new trial in Jacksonville murder case

Two juries in the same courtroom came to different conclusions in the cases of two men charged with first-degree murder in what police described as a drug-related killing.  One man was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for his role in the death of two Jacksonville brothers who were shot and killed in their car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The second defendant is facing a new trial after a jury could not reach a unanimous decision on whether he was guilty or not guilty. His Jacksonville Murder Case could be reopened for negotiations or scheduled for a new trial.

The trial logistics of this Jacksonville Murder Case are different than most. In this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, four people were allegedly going to buy drugs from the two brothers and the two brothers were both shot in the face and killed. One defendant already pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in this 2013 incident and is awaiting sentencing. The alleged shooter is charged with first-degree murder and the state is planning to seek the death penalty against him. That left the two men who recently went to trial. The facts of the case were similar enough that the state could present the cases against both at the same time. But, separate juries were assembled for each of the defendants in this Jacksonville Murder Case. So when it came time to deliberate and discuss the charges, one jury went into one room and the other went into a separate room.

This practice is done so every defendant has a fair trial and is judged on his or her own actions as offered as evidence by the state. If a jury was considering both cases at the same time, the actions of one defendant could influence their opinion of the other. A person’s right to a fair trial in front of a jury of his or her peers is essential – especially in a first-degree murder case. There are only two possible sentences when someone is convicted of first-degree murder: life in prison or the death penalty. The 20-year-old man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder could face a sentence that would allow him to be released from prison at some point, but he likely agreed to cooperate in the case. The 21-year-old defendant now facing a new trial could have a similar option, depending on what he and the state choose to do with the case. If the case does go to trial a second time, the jury will not be told it’s been to trial before – just like previous criminal charges aren’t allowed in as evidence in the case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Duval County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.