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This is a developing story.

After deliberating through the lunch hour, jurors convicted a 61-year-old street preacher of inciting a riot at a July 16 memorial last summer.

James Hutchins will be sentenced Oct. 18 for his charges of inciting to riot and disorderly conduct. Hutchins was also charged with assault, but jurors returned a "not guilty" verdict.

some text James Hutchins

The two-day trial concluded this morning after attorneys gave their closing arguments.

Prosecutor Bates Bryan stressed that law enforcement was concerned about Hutchins on July 19, 2015, when he allegedly said racial slurs, called people queers, and assaulted a police officer at a Lee Highway Memorial dedicated to victims of the July 16 shooting.

Hutchins, who has represented himself, said his actions were never inherently violent.

He said he's been preaching for 38 years and doesn't do this "flippantly."

"I would just ask you to consider the evidence and whether there was criminal intent involved in any of what I was doing," he told jurors during closing arguments.

"I don't do this flippantly. I've been doing this for 38 years. And most communities don't have any problem whatsoever until this incident."

Going without an attorney raised some issues.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bryan requested an out-of-jury hearing to address a concern that Debbie Hutchins, the preacher's wife, had discussed testimony with another witness right after he got off the stand.

That's forbidden during an ongoing trial.

Bryan called a county employee whose office is right outside the courtroom and another prosecutor, Kate Lavery. After hearing the evidence, Judge Tom Greenholtz said there was a clear rule violation. He asked the attorneys to not discuss this violation in front of jurors.

Then, when Debbie Hutchins got back on the stand and her husband continued his cross examination, he asked if any courtroom officer had intimidated her.

"What this other attorney's name is," she said, referring to Bryan. "He made me feel like I had discussed this case or whatever."

Bryan objected immediately and Greenholtz dismissed jurors early. Today, Greenholtz explained to jurors the rule violation.

"[The witness] went out of the courtroom and began to discuss his testimony with the next witness, Ms. Hutchins," he said. "You are not required to accept this testimony."

Stay with the Times Free Press as more information becomes available.

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