INDIANAPOLIS – Jurors voted five separate times and couldn’t come up with a unanimous decision.
That means Tyler Newby will get a retrial.
Newby is accused of shooting and killing Dorian Murrell. He claims it was self-defense. The shooting happened during the second night of rioting in downtown Indianapolis on May 31, 2020.
Newby maintained he was pushed to the ground and found Murrell looming over him during the confrontation. He said he had been surrounded by several people.
Marion County prosecutors suffered a setback before the case went to the jury.
Marion Superior Judge Angela Davis tossed out a charge of voluntary manslaughter lodged against Newby. The judge said the prosecution had not proven, let alone raised, the factor of “sudden heat” necessary to prove the voluntary manslaughter charge.
The state argued the issue was understood by Newby’s own interview with a homicide detective the morning of the shooting when he said, “I was shoved to the ground. I was afraid.”
The judge disagreed, removing a potential compromise verdict for jurors who may feel Newby’s shooting of Murrell wasn’t fully justified but yet did not rise to the level of murder.
The case went to the jury Wednesday afternoon. After several hours of deliberation, including five votes, jurors said they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict. Davis declared a mistrial and set Newby’s next court date for Nov. 2. Neither prosecutors nor Newby’s family commented on the mistrial.
During the morning session, and out of the presence of the jury, three friends of Murrell availed themselves of their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by refusing to testify about the shooting.
Later, IMPD Detective Stephen Smalley testified, again, out of the presence of the jury, that Marcus Anderson, Nakeyah Shields and Alijah Jones were all charged with a pair of robberies and the murder of Chris Beaty three hours earlier and several blocks away from the spot where Murrell was killed.
Smalley said that Murrell would also face those same charges if he were still alive.
Judge Davis advised the prosecutors to not discuss the group’s activities before Murrell’s killing at Pennsylvania and Market Streets because to do so would permit the defense to introduce the victim’s conduct previous to his death.
Jurors listened to the six-minute-long interview Newby gave IMPD Homicide Detective Lottie Patrick that morning as he confessed to the crime, claiming that Murrell was “making a fist” as he stood over Newby and feared “a haymaker” was headed his way.
Newby told the detective he fired at the red shirt of the man who was towering over him as he lay on the pavement after being knocked down, claiming Murrell was “getting ready to do some damage.”
In his closing argument, Defense Attorney John Keiffner told jurors that under state law, Newby was within his rights to respond with deadly force to what he believed was an attempted forcible felony or to prevent serious bodily injury.
Prosecutors argued that a “shove to the ground” did not justify lethal self-defense.
Keiffner argued that downtown Indianapolis was in a state of dangerous chaos during two nights of protests and rioting in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis and that IMPD and the Marion County Prosecutor were eager to close the Murrell case with an arrest due to political pressure and the outrage of the community over the destructive civil unrest downtown.
“Nobody is going to be happy with this verdict,” Keiffner told jurors.