INDIANAPOLIS — A jury in the trial of a suspect in a deadly shooting in downtown Indianapolis after the 2020 protests remained deadlocked Wednesday night after several attempts to reach a verdict.
Tyler Newby is facing a charge of murder for the killing of 18-year-old Dorian Murrell. He was initially also facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the case, but his defense team argued for the judge to remove the manslaughter charge since the prosecution didn’t specifically bring it up.
Prosecutors argued manslaughter should be considered and that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to keep it as an option.
After hearing both sides, Judge Angela Davis agreed with the defense, dropped manslaughter as an option, and brought the jury back in to tell them. This means jurors may now only consider the murder charge.
Legal Expert Carman Malone said dropping the manslaughter charge definitely works in the defense's favor.
"I don't know if they felt like they did that, or they literally dropped the ball on it. You have to prove the element. We do know that as an attorney," said Malone.
After several hours of deliberation and five votes, the jury could not come to an agreement to convict or acquit Newby of murder and a hung jury was declared.
Malone said this was probably a lot for the jury.
"That all or nothing is intimidating, because what people will get stuck on is the word 'intent,'" said Malone.
Davis scheduled a pre-trial conference for Nov. 2 to determine the next steps in the case.
Murrell was found shot in the area of Market and Pennsylvania Streets around 2:30 a.m. May 31, 2020.
According to court documents, Newby actually went up to a Marion County Sheriff's deputy and told him, "I don't know who I need to tell, but I just shot somebody." Newby said the incident happened "somewhere near the circle." He also gave the deputy the handgun he used during the shooting.
Newby had picked up a tear gas canister and that is what allegedly led to the interaction between him and the victim. The group the victim was with had asked about the canister and when Newby didn't respond, things allegedly escalated.
In court documents, Newby's friend told them, "Don't worry about it." He told detectives three to four males walked toward him and "kind of pushed him a little bit, but no one hit him."
He said he then looked over and saw Newby on the ground with a male standing over him.
"My son was killed over a gas can?" cried Murrell's mother as she left the courtroom, shaking her head.
Newby told investigators he had been shoved to the ground and when he rolled over, there was a Black male standing over him and he was afraid he was going to be punched. A witness told police Murrell did not have a weapon and no punches were thrown. Police said Newby also told investigators Murrell did not say anything to him and did not hit him.
Afraid of getting hit, Newby said he pulled out his gun and shot Murrell once in the heart.
"Dorian Murrell is dead because of a push," the deputy prosecutor told jurors. "It's not reasonable to kill someone after they push you ... and no one had a weapon except for the defendant."
But Newby's lawyer argued this was a clear case of self-defense.
"No weapon? Weapon number one, weapon number two," said the defense attorney, showing his fists. "And he's outnumbered ... what other option did he have? To wait and see how much damage he could do?"
Some of the people in the group with Murrell that night have been charged with armed robbery and in the murder of Chris Beaty, who was shot and killed a few hours earlier that night downtown.
IMPD detective Stephen Smalley testified — without the jurors present — that if had Murrell survived the shooting, he also would have been charged in connection with some of those crimes against Beaty.
After hearing that testimony, Judge Davis asked Smalley whether there was any way Newby could have known that when he shot Murrell. Smalley replied, "no." Davis did not allow the testimony to be heard by the jury.
"That just taints the jury. If they blurted that out the judge would have to declare a mistrial. It's just way too prejudicial and creates an unfair circumstance for the state," said Malone.
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