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Mistrial declared; DA to try again

August 23, 2012

The trial of a 27-year-old Big Spring man charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon ended Wednesday in a mistrial, as the jury announced it was hopelessly deadlocked.

According to officials with the 118th District Court, the jury — which was seated Monday and heard testimony Tuesday and Wednesday — announced it was hung late Wednesday afternoon with 10 jurors voting guilty and two voting not guilty.

Brian Christopher Lewis, 27, currently being held at the Howard County Detention Center, was being tried on a single charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

“In any case, you need a unanimous vote by the jury, whether it's for guilty or not guilty,” Howard County District Attorney Hardy Wilkerson said. “In this case, the jury came to the conclusion it was hopelessly deadlocked 10-2 after six hours of deliberation, at which time a mistrial was declared.”

Lewis was indicted Feb. 3 on charges of deadly conduct, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

According to Wilkerson, the decision to try Lewis on the single charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon was tactical.

“In approaching this case, we had particular witnesses who were available to testify, so the decision of which charges to pursue was purely a tactical one,” Wilkerson said. “I have every intention of retrying this case. At this point, it's likely we'll pursue the drug charge next.”

Wilkerson said he felt comfortable with the way testimony in the trial had proceeded.

“We were very comfortable with it. I feel like we put the evidence forward in a very positive manner,” Wilkerson said. “I spoke with several of the jurors who voted guilty, however, I haven't been able to speak to the two jurors who voted not guilty, so I don't have the particulars on why they voted that way.”

According to Sgt. Tony Everett, public information officer with the Big Spring Police Department, the Aug. 22, 2011, altercation began when Lewis and another individual began chasing 32-year-old Lonnie Ray Gray Jr. near the 500 block of State Street because of a domestic dispute.

“Officers responded to a residence in reference to a report of shots fired,” Everett said. “On arrival, officers found that a family had been inside their home when Gray banged on the door and then forced his way inside, begging the family to hide him from Lewis and the other male subject.

“As Gray ran through the house, Lewis and the second male subject came through the door chasing him. Lewis was armed with a handgun and fired two shots at Gray. Lewis and the second subject then fled the scene in a vehicle.”

Everett said no injuries were reported as a result of the gunfire.

Lewis was apprehended Dec. 14, 2011, at a residence in the 500 block of Young Street during a drug sweep carried out through Big Spring by local, state and federal law enforcement officers and arrested on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance.

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