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Tased man’s family moving forward with civil lawsuit

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT
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SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - After a judge declared a mistrial for the three former deputies charged with Eurie Martin’s murder, we’re hearing from Martin’s family and attorneys who say his fight for justice doesn’t end here.

The family civil rights attorney’s for Martin announced Wednesday they do plan to pursue justice in every way available to them. So they’re calling for a retrial and also pursuing a civil court lawsuit. They say they want Sandersville to set an example for police accountability across the country.

After a four-year battle for justice, Martin’s family thought Tuesday would bring the verdict they’d waited for.

“I literally cried my self to sleep last night because my heart was so heavy,” said Helen Gilbert, Martin’s sister.

A jury, deadlocked since the first day of deliberations, fell short of making a decision.

Eurie Martin
Eurie Martin(WRDW)

“For all we know, it could be 11 people that were voting guilty and there was one holdout that just refused to vote that way,” said Titus Nichols, trial attorney and professor.

Nichols is professor with courtroom experience in both defense and prosecution. He says in this case, a retrial is likely. And it could come as soon as early next year.

“This isn’t just some low level drug charge where no one paid attention. This case got attention all across the state,” he said.

Another trial for Rhett Scott, Henry Copeland, and Michael Howell could be a big risk.

“They might not be in prison now, but if they’re going to trial and lose, they could be sentenced to the maximum. There’s also the financial aspects,” he said.

During the trial, the defense presented three expert witnesses. In total paid more than $25,000 for their testimonies. Retrial would also mean convincing a new jury but now both sides can talk to previous jurors about what left them deadlocked.

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“So it could be the fact that it’s just a number of charges. Maybe it was an issue they had with the evidence or maybe they believe that one defendant was more culpable than the others. It’s just a lot of issues that go on in the jury room,” said Nichols.

The family, crying through yesterday’s pain but not wavering in their fight.

“Right now, I am very emotional, my heart is heavy,” said Gilbert.

“The road to justice is a marathon. This is not a sprint,” said Mawuli Davis, Martin family civil attorney.

As an alternative the prosecution might also offer the defendants a plea deal for a lesser charge to avoid going back to trial. But if they do decided on a retrial, Nichols says it’s likely the defense will come with new witnesses and a new argument, the state just has to remain consistent.

Nichols says in the event of a retrial, it’s also likely the venue will remain Washington County, meaning the new jury members would again be residents of Washington County. No word yet from the district attorney’s office on whether prosecutors plan to re-try the case.

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