Blackwell not guilty of attempted murder

Friday, February 6, 2015

By Karen Hall

Editor

The jury returned a not guilty verdict for Scotty W. Blackwell, 34, on the charge of attempted first-degree murder and the lesser included charge of attempted second-degree murder.

Six men and six women deliberated for about three hours Tuesday evening, and all of Wednesday morning before bringing their verdict to Judge Lee Russell about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

They did find Blackwell guilty of attempted voluntary manslaughter, and of the second count on which he was indicted: aggravated assault.

The jury's verdict will make a big difference in his client's sentence, said Blackwell's retained attorney David McKenzie.

As a Range 1 offender, Blackwell could be sentenced to up to six years on the aggravated assault, and four years on the attempted voluntary manslaughter, of which he would have to serve 30 percent before being eligible for a parole board hearing.

This is in sharp contrast to the sentence for attempted first-degree murder, which is 15 to 25 years at 100 percent.

"That's a big win right there," exclaimed McKenzie after the verdict was announced.

"We spent literally thousands of hours researching every detail of the crime scene," he said. "We knew that the story presented by the state and their witnesses was not indicative of premeditation to kill. We tried to present the concrete evidence at the scene to show that a fight occurred, rather than an attack."

Russell praised the jury when they took their seats in the courtroom for the last time to render their verdict.

"I do not think I've ever seen a more attentive jury in my life," said the judge, who has been on the bench for 25 years. "I'm impressed."

McKenzie also complemented the jury, and said they took a lot of notes and maintained their concentration through seven days in the courtroom, many prosecution witnesses and about 150 exhibits.

"My client is very fortunate the jury was able to discern the facts of the case, (and distinguish them) from the promises of the prosecution," he said.

McKenzie was less than complementary about the District Attorney's office, and said, "They over-charged my client in the grand jury."

"The District Attorney's office has a duty to present cases to juries which they can prove and not ones they simply wish to receive a conviction on," he added.

McKenzie noted if Blackwell had accepted the sentence the state offered in return for a guilty plea during negotiations, it would have resulted in "decades in prison."

Blackwell will be sentenced on April 10.