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After day of deliberation, no verdict reached in stun-death trial

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 6:55 PM EDT
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SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A verdict has not yet been reached in the murder trial involving three former Washington County deputies.

It’s been four years since Eurie Martin’s death.

After seven days in a courtroom leading up to the closing arguments on Thursday, the jury dimissed for the weekend with no verdict reached in the death trial of Martin.

While the jury will reconvene for discussion again on Monday, here’s a breakdown of what questions were brought up during day seven of the trial.

The first question surrounds Deputy Michael Howel’s first encounter with Eurie Martin: did the deputies have reasonable belief Martin broke a law when they stopped him?

Former Washington County deputies Howell, Rhett Scott, and Henry Copeland face a series of charges related to the death of the 58-year-old Georgia man. But when it boils down to it - three main topics are the focus for the jury’s decision.

Number one – was Eurie Martin walking in the roadway?

Prosecutor Kelly Weathers: “Copeland arrives, here’s Eurie walking in the grass. It’s not until he’s sandwiched by the two officers that he has to get off that safe space where he’s walking.”

The court says it’s an important factor to consider because if Martin was walking in the road, that’s a violation of state law giving deputies cause for arrest as the defense points out.

Secondly — what tier of police-citizen encounter was this?

Members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and outside experts testified three tiers of police encounters: Tier one is a voluntary conversation with no authority to arrest. That’s what the state argues it was.

Defense attorney Shawn Merzlak: “They have the right to detain Mr. Martin, they have the right to detain and further investigate, they have the right to issue him a warning.”

“Eurie Martin did nothing to justify his detention. He did nothing to justify these men putting their hands on him,” the prosecution argued.

And tier 2 is reasonable suspicion of a crime. This is when police have the authority to detain and ask questions, which the defense argues it was.

“We know specifically that Mr. Martin’s actions and mannerisms that day were at a point where people were alarmed,” the defense said.

The last question brought up in court: are stun guns deadly force?

The defense argued a stun gun couldn’t have killed Martin, while the state argues electrocution from the stun gun didn’t cause it but the shocking was the main element.

The jury sent Friday deliberating before dismissing for the weekend. Again, the jury is expected to reconvene on Monday and to further discuss the trial.

Stay tuned into News 12 for the latest coverage.

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