A Chatham County jury could not reach a verdict in the murder trial of a man accused of gunning down a Savannah State University student on campus in August 2015.
A judge ruled a mistrial in the case of Justin Stephens on Friday after jurors said they couldn’t reach a decision on any of his 10 charges, the Savannah Morning News reported.
They deliberated more than eight hours over two days before telling the judge they were deadlocked, the newspaper reported.
Stephens is accused of shooting and killing former DeKalb County high school football standout Christopher Starks four years ago during a fight in Savannah State’s student union building.
The 22-year-old died after getting shot once in the shoulder, authorities said.
Starks graduated in 2012 from Miller Grove High School in Lithonia, where he played football and competed in track and field. As a senior, he had 26 receptions for 453 yards as a wide receiver, and recorded 16 tackles on defense. He signed a scholarship to play football at Appalachian State University, where he played defensive back before transferring to Savannah State.
Stephens, 25, was not a Savannah State student. He pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated assault and weapons charges in connection with the slaying, according to the Savannah Morning News.
His attorneys conceded that Stephens was on campus during the brawl, but maintain he did not fired the shot that killed Starks.
In 2016, Starks’ family filed a lawsuit against the Board of Regents alleging the board knew the university’s campus had multiple crime incidents and did nothing to prevent them.
Stephens was arrested in April 2018 after nearly three years on the run, AJC.com previously reported.
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap said her office would retry the case, and Superior Court Judge John Morse said a new trial would be scheduled at a later date, according to the Morning News.
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