DECATUR — A judge apologized to a Decatur jury on Tuesday after dismissing them when a mistrial was declared in an attempted murder case.
Gavarius T. Carney, 25, has pleaded not guilty in Macon County Circuit Court to charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and being an armed habitual criminal. They are all class X felonies, and he was facing 31 years to life in prison if convicted.
But Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney David Perry and defense attorney Thomas Wheeler agreed to call for a mistrial after a key witness' story changed.
Speaking while the jury, which had yet to hear any evidence, was out of the courtroom, Perry told Judge James Coryell the witness' new story opened up the possibility of a claim of self-defense on the part of Carney.
“I can’t object to his (Wheeler’s) motion for a mistrial,” he said.
Coryell agreed a mistrial was appropriate. He told Perry: “I am going to grant the motion … it sounds like you’ve got a mess on your hands, to put it mildly.”
A hearing for a new trial was set for Dec. 26. Carney is being held in the Macon County Jail.
Coryell told the jury before dismissing them: “... The long and the short of it is, I apologize to you for having wasted half a day of your time.”
In the case against Carney, a sworn police affidavit said he shot a man through his left thigh on May 28 in a dispute over a woman.
The victim told police Carney pulled a .40-caliber handgun that jammed at first. He then cleared the jam, and the bullet that hit him was one or seven or eight shots fired.
Wheeler said he was grateful to the prosecution for calling Tuesday’s trial off.
“They did what was right and what they needed to do,” he said.