Murder charges against Mobley dropped: Questions in case won't be answered with new trial, judge says

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

After members of a hung jury raised questions of witness credibility, prosecutors Friday dismissed murder and attempted murder charges against Stephen Mobley.

Jurors told defense attorney John Wysong after the trial that their questions about the case against Mobley came down to the testimony of asingle witness.

Constance Taylor was the state's key witness in Mobley's trial for the murder of Gregory Watkins and the shooting of his girlfriend, Lashonda Gonzalez, which ended Feb. 18. On Friday, the state dismissed charges against Mobley without prejudice, citing the jury's indecision.

"I don't think there was any question that Constance Taylor was there," Wysong said. "It was whether or not she could be believed."

Assistant District Attorney General Lance Pope told Judge Barry Steelman Friday: "The reservations that the jury had, based on conversations with them, would not change based on a new trial."

Pope went on to say all the evidence in the case had been presented at trial. The jury had seen everything, and nothing new would come out at a new trial, he said. He moved to dismiss the case, and Steelman granted the motion. Mobley was to be released immediately.

The state's case hinged on the testimony of Taylor, Mobley's cousin, who said she drove to a Brainerd gas station with Mobley and watched him shoot Watkins and Gonzalez. Taylor told a different story the first time she was interviewed by police and even admitted to lying on the stand. She first said she watched the shooting from a nearby turn lane and didn't know the shooter.

She is currently charged with giving false reports.

Wysong said Mobley has maintained his innocence throughout his prosecution and was adamantly against taking a plea deal. Instead, he wanted to go to trial as quickly as possible, a move that "takes fortitude," Wysong said.

In the end, that gamble paid off.

After Friday's hearing, Mobley's mother and sister spilled into the courthouse hallway, crying.

"Oh Jesus, thank you," his mother, Denise Clark, cried. "Oh Jesus, thank you."

Mobley's sister, Corneshia Stamper, led her to a bench.

"It's over," she said.

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

Previous news report: