Deliberations continue at Kerrick trial

Deliberations continue in the voluntary manslaughter trial of police officer Randall Kerrick. Video by WBTV
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Deliberations continue in the voluntary manslaughter trial of police officer Randall Kerrick. Video by WBTV
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Crime

Live updates: Kerrick jury quietly finishes 3rd day of reviewing evidence in police shooting case

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

August 20, 2015 10:45 AM

Thursday is the third day of deliberations for the jury in the voluntary manslaughter trial of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick, who is accused of wrongfully killing Jonathan Ferrell in a late-night encounter in 2013.

As the jurors began their work on Tuesday afternoon, they asked the judge for clarity on the definition of voluntary manslaughter.

On the second day of deliberations, the jurors asked the judge to provide a definition of self-defense. The jurors also asked to review a good bit of the core evidence in the case: the dashcam video, photos showing the position of police cruisers, and interviews done by CMPD investigators in 2013 with the three officers who were involved in the fatal encounter.

The jury instructions include the definitions of legal terms. Read them here. You also can read transcripts of the interviews with the three officers: Kerrick, Officer Adam Neal (who captured the dashcam video), Officer Thornell Little (who fired his Taser at Ferrell).

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There is no disagreement on two key elements of voluntary manslaughter: Kerrick intentionally fired his gun and his gunshots caused Ferrell’s death. That leaves the third element for the jury to decide: Were Kerrick’s actions acceptable for self-defense, or did he use more force than was needed to protect himself?

The 12-member jury has two people who are Latino, three African-American and seven white. Eight are women and four are men.

If convicted, Kerrick faces three to 11 years in prison. He has been on unpaid suspension since the shooting.

For a review of the basic facts of the case and links to prior reports, click here.

5 p.m.: Done for the day

The jury has not reached a verdict and has been sent home for the day by Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin.

4:15 p.m.: 13 hours of deliberation so far

With less than an hour until the usual 5 p.m. close for the day, the jury continues to deliberate with no communication since a request first thing this morning.

It is not unusual for juries to take several days or a week to reach a decision, especially in cases that involve a lot of testimony and physical evidence.

3 p.m.: Deliberations continue

The jury has been deliberating for an hour this afternoon. There has been no communication from the jury since a request first thing this morning.

12:45 p.m.: Lunch break

The jury is on a lunch break until 2 p.m. There have been no further requests for information from them.

10:45 a.m.: Jury asks to see Kerrick’s injuries, testimony of officer who counseled Kerrick

As deliberations resumed Thursday, the jury requested five additional pieces of information from Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin.

▪ The report of a crime scene investigator who diagrammed the shooting scene. Ervin and the attorneys in the case said the report was never submitted as evidence, so the jury must rely on their memories of what they heard of the investigator’s testimony. Instead, the judge provided the jury with diagrams made by the investigator.

▪ Pictures of Randall Kerrick’s injuries. Defense attorneys have said Kerrick was struck by a quickly advancing Ferrell. Kerrick filed a police report that day saying he had been assaulted. Prosecutors have said the injuries to Kerrick’s lip and cheek were minor and that the contact was likely the final movements of a dying man.

▪ The jury wants to know whether Ferrell was right-handed or left-handed. In court, no one testified about which was Ferrell’s dominant hand, Ervin said.

▪ An essay Kerrick wrote when he applied to the police academy. The essay was not introduced into evidence. “The court can supply the evidence that was submitted, but not information that was not,” Ervin said.

▪ The transcript of Lt. Eric Brady’s testimony. Brady counseled Kerrick and another officer following a use of force situation a year before the Ferrell shooting. The incident involved a man who officers were unsure was armed. Brady told the officers that because one officer pulled a Taser on the man, Kerrick should pull his firearm in case the incident escalated to the point where lethal force was necessary. Ervin did not provide the transcript because it had not been completed.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: 704-358-5046, @CleveWootson