Juror causes mistrial in murder, theft case

For The Tribune

VERNON

A single juror caused a mistrial in Jennings Circuit Court for one of two men accused of a random killing during a crime spree last fall.

As a result, Jody Michael Brooks, 23, of North Vernon will be on trial a second time before Judge Jonathan Webster at 9 a.m. Nov. 16.

Both Brooks and JoVonnie Antonio Mayes, 22, of Seymour will be tried for murder in connection with the Oct. 17 beating death of Richard Smith, 52, of Dupont.

In addition, both are charged with robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and two counts of auto theft. Mayes is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 25.

Investigators, who say the defendants did not know the victim, believe robbery was the motive.

“It was pretty much just a random, violent act,” said Sgt. Andrew Richmond of the North Vernon Police Department in an earlier interview.

Smith’s body was found in the trash outside the former Hatton’s Carpet and Flooring building near Fifth Street and Amvet Drive in North Vernon, investigators said.

A tenant in the building found the body, investigators said. The building burned down about a month after the killing.

The defendants went through Smith’s wallet, stole some of his clothing and fled north of town to Country Squire Lakes, investigators said.

After stealing a vehicle in the Geneva Township subdivision, the suspects drove to Hayden in western Jennings County and stole a second vehicle there, according to a news release from North Vernon Lt. Randall Marshall.

However, investigators developed leads that led them to Mayes and Brooks, who were discovered with the second stolen vehicle in Harrison County, 25 miles west of Louisville, Marshall said.

If convicted on all charges, Brooks and Mayes could be sentenced to either life without parole or between 56 and 100 years in prison.

After Brooks’ trial in Vernon began Aug. 24, the jury saw evidence and heard testimony for the next four days. After a three-day break, they returned Aug. 31 to hear final arguments before deliberations, court records state.

But at 7:45 p.m. Aug. 31, the jury foreman informed the court they were deadlocked on the murder and robbery charges. When the judge polled the jury, it was discovered that one juror was refusing to convict Brooks, records state.

However, the 12 jurors did find Brooks guilty of the two lesser charges of auto theft. Brooks is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Oct. 29 on those convictions.

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The second trial for Jody M. Brooks is now scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 16 before Judge Jonathan Webster in Jennings Circuit Court.

Separate trials will be conducted for Brooks and Jovonnie Antonio Mayes for Oct. 17, 2014 robbery and killing of Richard Smith in North Vernon.  

Mayes is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 25.   

However, all 12 jurors did find Brooks guilty of the two lesser charges of auto theft. Brooks is scheduled to be sentenced for those crimes at 9 a.m. Oct. 29.

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