Law expert explains why unexpected decisions were made in two murder cases with seemingly damning evidence
BATON ROUGE - Even in cases where verdicts seem the most obvious, courtroom decisions can stray far from what's expected. This week, two murder trials wrapped up without formal charges for either suspect.
In February of this year, Demetriyon Grim was accused of a midday double murder near the Mall of Louisiana. Friday, a grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to charge him.
In a video shown to jurors Thursday, 17-year-old Ronald Campbell shot and killed beloved baseball coach Trey Allen outside a West Baton Rouge bar in Sep. 2021. Despite this seemingly damning evidence, the jury failed to make a decision, resulting in a mistrial.
Both of these murder cases may seem simple, but in the courtroom, it's clear they're anything but.
"There are so many variables, so many factors. It's just not that simple. Almost every case is more complicated than what meets the eye, even with video," Ken Levy, a law professor at LSU, told WBRZ.
Levy says there is always more than one side to a story, and usually more information than the public is aware of.
"The jurors get a front row seat to everything that we, the public, just do not," Levy said.
Levy says even though video can be helpful for the jury, it does not show any lead-up to what may have caused the shooting.
"At some point, videos begin and end, and we don't see what happens before or after, and those could be very telling facts," Levy said.
And those facts can change the minds of jurors.
"The prosecution might say, 'here is A) shooting, B) that's murder.' The defense may say it was all self-defense, or there was provocation, and you didn't see that on the video. Or you did see it on the video, and that is how we are interpreting it," Levy said.
Levy says with Louisiana law now requiring juries to make a unanimous decision in felony cases, hung juries will become more and more common.
Despite the decisions in both trials, Grim and Campbell could be brought back to court in the future. Campbell has a new trial date set for November.
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