Jury hung in Stephen Mobley slaying trial

Stephen Mobley awaits a new court date with his attorney following a hung jury inside Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom in this file photo.
photo Stephen Mobley is escorted back to holding following a hung jury decision Tuesday inside Judge Barry Steelman's Division 1 courtroom.

Jurors on Tuesday announced they had come to an impasse in the murder trial of Stephen Mobley, prompting a judge to declare a mistrial.

The jury deliberated about five hours Friday and recessed for the weekend, and inclement weather postponed their deliberations until Tuesday.

After about 90 minutes of deliberation Tuesday morning, the jury told Judge Barry Steelman they couldn't reach a verdict. Now, the state will have to reconsider whether to prosecute Mobley at all.

Mobley, 31, is charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during a dangerous offense. The state's case hinged on the testimony of Constance Taylor, a cousin of Mobley's who said she watched him shoot Gregory Watkins and his girlfriend, Lashonda Gonzalez, in June 2012.

But Taylor has already admitted she lied to police about her whereabouts that night. She originally told them she watched the shooting from a turn lane, and didn't immediately name Mobley as the shooter.

Defense attorney John Wysong said jurors told him Taylor's testimony created doubt.

"This is a difficult case because it came down to the credibility of one witness," Wysong said.

Wysong emphasized that Mobley has maintained his innocence throughout the trial, and will continue to do so as the state decides how to proceed.

"Mr. Mobley continues in his efforts to be cleared of these charges," Wysong said.

During trial, Wysong pointed out what he said were other holes in the state's case. Gonzalez initially picked another man out of a lineup, and though his case was dropped for lack of evidence, his twin brother was never investigated, Detective Lucas Fuller said.

"They don't have any evidence against my brother," Mobley's sister, Latoya Vaught, said Tuesday.

Mobley was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2005 and served five years in prison. His family says he did not kill Watkins, and wouldn't have put himself through a trial if he was guilty. As in that 2005 case, they said, he would have pleaded guilty. Still, they agreed they would rather see a hung jury than a guilty verdict.

Mobley is expected to appear in court again March 5. Taylor, charged with giving false reports, will appear that day as well.

Contact staff writer Claire Wiseman at cwiseman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow her on Twitter @clairelwiseman.