Jury returns not guilty verdict in Mineola murder trial
Case stems from 2014 shooting of teen outside an EZ Mart convenience store
QUITMAN, TEXAS (KLTV) - A Wood County jury has found Jason Walters not guilty in the fatal shooting of Chris Griffin, 18.
Walters was on trial for first-degree murder stemming from the shooting that happened on June 15, 2014 outside the Mineola EZ Mart on North Pacific Street.
Jurors heard several days of testimony that included multiple witnesses who were at the EZ Mart, police officers who responded to the scene, Walters’ daughter, a gang expert and the man Walters had an argument with inside the store just moments before the shooting.
Deliberations were on hold at one point Wednesday after a juror became ill and was taken to a hospital. That juror was released from the hospital and deliberations were resumed. The jury had the option of finding Walters guilty or not guilty of either murder or manslaughter.
Walters’ defense never disputed the fact that Walters shot Griffin, but attorney Cynthia Stevens Kent argued he pulled the trigger in self-defense.
“This is why we have juries,” defense attorney Brett Harrison said. “This is why we have jury trials. They were the conscious of the community. They listened to all of the evidence and they returned what we believe to be the proper verdict.”
During closing arguments, the prosecution called Walters’ actions “unreasonable and unjustified” and said the shooting was the result of a clash of egos between Walters and Dietrich Flournoy. Through testimony last week, Flournoy was identified as the person Walters had a verbal altercation with inside the store just moments before the shooting. The prosecution pointed out that Walters and Griffin never exchanged words, calling Griffin “an innocent third party” and adding that "a license to carry concealed is not a license to kill.”
“It was wrong,” James Griffin, Christopher’s father, said “I do not think justice was served here at all. I pray God will bless this town, this system, and those who want justice for Chris."
“I think it’s an extremely hard thing when you have a young person who dies,” defense attorney Cynthia Stevens Kent said. “Tragic for him and his family. But it’s also important that Jason had a fair trial and his rights were protected. And he was found not guilty, because clearly he was acting in self-defense.”
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PREVIOUS STORY (Wednesday midday): Jury resumes deliberations in trial of Mineola man who shot teen
There’s still no verdict in the Mineola murder trial of Jason Walters. He’s charged with first degree-murder in the fatal shooting of Chris Griffin, 18.
Jurors have requested to review some of the evidence, including portions of the surveillance video from the night of the shooting at the Mineola EZ Mart.
The jury was sequestered overnight before resuming deliberations Wednesday morning.
PREVIOUS STORY (Wednesday morning)
Deliberations continued Wednesday morning in the murder trial of the Mineola man who fatally shot a teen outside a convenience store.
The jury is deliberating the fate of Jason Walters. He’s charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 18-year-old Chris Griffin on June 15, 2014.
The shooting happened after an argument that started inside the EZ Mart continued in the alley behind the store.
The jury deliberated for about seven hours Tuesday before the judge dismissed the jury for the night.
The judge instructed the jury that they can find Walters guilty or not guilty of murder, or guilty or not guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
During closing arguments, the prosecution called Walters’ actions “unreasonable and unjustified” and said the shooting was the result of a clash of egos between Walters and Dietrich Flournoy.
Through testimony last week, Flournoy was identified as the person Walters had a verbal altercation with inside the store just moments before the shooting. The prosecution pointed out that Walters and Griffin never exchanged words, calling Griffin “an innocent third party” and adding that "a license to carry concealed is not a license to kill.”
Walters’ defense is not disputing the fact he shot Griffin, but that he did so in self-defense.
Still no verdict in Mineola murder trial; jury to return at 9 a.m.
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