COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A trial 18 months in the making came to a head Friday. Now both the prosecution and defense are left wondering what’s next.
Chadbourn Town Manager Stevie Cox finally had his day in court last week, but Cox said his life is still on hold after a mistrial left a cloud hanging over his head.
With the jury deadlocked 7-5 for not guilty, the judge in Cox’s impersonating an officer case was forced to declare a mistrial Friday. Defense attorney Mike Willis says he’s not surprised.
“Nobody, I think, is surprised by the fact that you have such an even split in a case of this notoriety particularly when it involves a public official,” Willis said.
The mistrial put the ball back into the court of District Attorney Jon David, who is faced with the decision of whether to retry the case.
“What I’m going to do is sit down with the defense attorney and see if there is any common ground as far as a resolution is concerned,” David told WWAY. “It’s obviously a misdemeanor, so trying it twice, to some extent, calls into question how we’re using our resources.”
If the case is tried again, attorneys would select a new jury, which could prove difficult.
“I think it would be very difficult to get a fair jury in this county,” Willis said. “Not to say that we couldn’t get a fair jury, but you certainly would have difficulty getting a jury now who had not been informed about this case by the press.”
Jury foreman Donald Wise said he did not feel a verdict could be reached no matter where there the trial is held.
“Not with the jury that was there. Not in 20 years,” he said. “Not with the wording of the law, so to speak. Things have a tendency to be written certain ways and interpretations are always different for different minds.”
Another juror told us Friday she was trying to give Cox a break by voting not guilty. David said he had not yet seen the interview, but would be interested to hear what that juror had to say.
As for Cox, a review by the Town of Chadbourn found him competent to continue as manager unless he is found guilty in court.