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Hung jury in St. Petersburg murder trial creates tense courtroom

LARGO – After nearly 11 hours of deliberations, a jury early Saturday morning declared itself unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial against Dwayne M. Bailey.

Bailey, 27, was on trial this week, accused of shooting 30-year-old Marquell Burge behind the Game Room, a pool hall and club at 1149 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S, St. Petersburg.

Jurors began deliberating at around 1:30 p.m. Friday and called it quits just after midnight. "You've done your best, that's all we can ask," Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip J. Federico said, before dismissing the jurors.

But the decision, or lack of one, led to tense moments in the courtroom. Family members of Bailey and family members of Burge, sitting on opposite sides of the courtroom, began exchanging words afterward. Bailey muttered something at Burge's relatives as he was led out of court.

Court deputies controlled the situation by having the two sides leave the courtroom separately, after jurors already had exited. Additional deputies patrolled the parking lot.

Earlier in the night, jurors said they were deadlocked 8-4, without saying which way the majority was leaning. Federico urged the jurors to spend more time discussing the case, but they could not reach consensus.

Federico set an Aug. 20 hearing for attorneys to discuss how to proceed. Typically in a case like this, prosecutors prepare to try the case again, and attorneys may also discuss the possibility of a plea agreement.

Prosecutors opened the trial this week by telling jurors that Bailey got out of jail in March 2011, got a Subway sandwich and stopped by the Game Room. And they said that later the same night, someone came to the alley behind the Game Room and called out to buy some drugs. Burge came out. But then a man raised a gun to the back of Burge's head and fired.

Lorenzo Brown, 50, a man who cleaned up around the pool hall and was present that night, testified that he saw the man shoot Burge. He identified Bailey as the shooter, even though the man he saw had a black shirt pulled up over his face. He also said the man had a tattoo on his neck, but he couldn't remember what kind of tattoo.

Bailey does have the numbers "727" tattooed on the back of his neck.

But defense attorney Richard Watts said it was a case of misidentification.

Shortly after the March 2011 killing, nine bullets were fired into a house where Bailey had been staying. The gunfire missed the six children, ages 2 to 15, who were inside the house at the time. Although authorities have long suspected this drive-by shooting was in retaliation for Burge's slaying, the crime has never been solved.

Hung jury in St. Petersburg murder trial creates tense courtroom 07/27/13 [Last modified: Saturday, July 27, 2013 11:17pm]
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