Second trial ends in hung jury

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Marshall County jury couldn't reach a verdict Tuesday in a case alleging drug dealing by a Lewisburg man who was arrested by city police nearly one year ago.

It was the second time state prosecutors brought Darron Keith "Quarterhead" Lyttle, 34, to trial on charges that he had 8.6 grams of crack cocaine when arrested in front of his mother's house, defense attorney Jay Moore said.

A mistrial was declared by Judge Robert Crigler on March 30 because a woman who had been dismissed for refusing to take her oath as a juror made racist and prejudicial remarks about black people and drugs to other jurors, Moore said.

After deliberating 3-1/2 hours between Monday night and Tuesday morning, the foreman of Lyttle's second jury reported they were hopelessly deadlocked, according to three court officials.

One of the officials reported later the foreman said the jury had voted 10-2 on the charge alleging Lyttle was in possession of crack with the intent to sell. On the second charge, possession with the intent to deliver, the jury was stalled with an 8-4 vote.

Judge Crigler thanked and dismissed the jury of eight men and four women before noon on Tuesday and rescheduled Lyttle's trial to start for a third time on Nov. 1, the court officer said.

Lyttle remains at-large on $15,000 bond.

According to court records, Lyttle was arrested on July 21, 2006 by Officers Larry Hazelwood and John Christmas on Seventh Avenue North. The officers responded after hearing gunshots while they were on patrol in the 700 block of Hill Street.

Christmas and Hazelwood followed a dark colored Chevrolet, according to the arrest warrant. When the car stopped, the passenger ran and Hazelwood chased him around a house. Hazelwood said he turned the corner of the house in time to see the passenger throw two handguns under the porch.

The passenger was apprehended, and while he was being walked to the patrol car, Hazelwood saw the driver of the car hand a small plastic bag to someone else, the officers reported.

The bag was recovered since it was suspected to be drugs and that led to Lyttle's arrest, according to the arrest warrant.

During trial testimony on Monday, a state crime lab officer said the crack allegedly confiscated during Lyttle's arrest weighed 8.6 grams.

The street value of that much cocaine, if sold on a per dose basis, was estimated at $1,740, according to Tim Lane, director of the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force, who testified as an expert witness.

Lane said 8.6 grams is "a very substantial amount" of crack cocaine and well-beyond the amount that would be held by an individual user.

An allegation of drug dealing was part of the improper statement by the dismissed juror in March, according to Martin. The woman had refused to raise her hand to take the oath as a juror and was released from duty.

However, she was later heard telling her sister and another woman who were seated jurors that "all people of that race sell drugs," Martin said Monday when he rephrased the excused juror's statement. She and two jurors had just walked out of the women's restroom when their conversation was overheard by a bailiff who reported it to the judge.

Announcement of the hung jury on Tuesday might be seen as a day-late birthday present for Lyttle. He turned 34 on the 16th, according to his lawyer.