Dayton hung jury foreman: 16 murder conviction votes were all 11-1

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Dayton hung jury foreman: 16 murder conviction votes were all 11-1

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MARK GOKAVI/Staff
Deonte Snowden in court during his murder trial last week. STAFF

The hung jury that led to a mistrial in the murder case of Dayton’s Deonte D. Snowden voted 16 times, according to the jury foreman.

Jury foreman Mark Ewald thought the evidence and testimony made it a “cut-and-dried” case in favor of a guilty verdict, but he said one juror said they could not be “100 percent” certain and voted to acquit.

“It was so cut and dried … to everybody but one person,” Ewald said. “We voted 16 times and it was 11 to 1.”

Snowden, 36, faces two counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault and one count of having weapons under disability related to the June 6, 2016, shooting death of William Sarver, 57.

A second trial was scheduled for April 9, 2018. Attorney Jay Carter will take over Snowden’s defense from Anthony VanNoy, who stepped aside due to his trial schedule, according to court documents.

A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court jury heard evidence during a trial last week that lasted less than two days. Deliberations lasted about as long as the trial before Judge Gregory Singer declared a mistrial.

Less than halfway through deliberations, Singer issued what he termed a “firecracker charge” in which he asked the jury if they thought a verdict could be reached after further discussion.

Ewald, who told Singer yes, said the jury listened to the 911 call again and watched all the testimony again. He said the jury member who voted to acquit said they wanted more forensic evidence.

“My client has maintained his innocence throughout,” VanNoy said. “He always indicated that someone else shot Mr. Sarver and that he just doesn’t know who it was. It had to be someone standing close by to him. That’s his perspective.”

Assistant prosecutor John Amos said the jury member who voted to acquit wasn’t going to convict Snowden no matter the evidence or testimony.

Ewald said he was honored to be on his first jury and that he was “so impressed with the defense lawyer and the prosecutor and the process” but that he was “flabbergasted and disappointed” that the jury didn’t reach a unanimous verdict.

VanNoy said a key witness didn’t identify Snowden on her 911 call seconds after the shooting, but that she did in court. VanNoy also said there were other male voices heard during the 911 call so it is “incredulous” to suggest nobody else was nearby.

“The jury spoke,” VanNoy said. “We seek unanimous verdicts for a reason in our country. And when we don’t have a unanimous verdict, we try the case over again.”

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