URBANA — A Champaign County jury could not reach a verdict Wednesday in the case of an Urbana man accused of murdering his stepfather.
Judge Harry Clem declared a mistrial in Tyrone Franklin's case about 1:30 p.m. after the eight men and four women who had deliberated about seven hours over two days told him they couldn't reach a unanimous verdict.
The jury foreman told the judge its last vote was 10-2 but didn't indicate in open court whether the majority favored conviction or acquittal.
Franklin, 19, was charged with the Dec. 19, 2008, first-degree murder of James Ellis of Champaign.
Mr. Ellis, 34, was shot three times in a struggle with Franklin that occurred in a garage that had been converted to living quarters in the 1900 block of Joanne Lane. He was living there with Franklin's mother, Melinda Ellis. Also present in the two-room residence at the time of the killing were three children.
Jurors were chosen Monday, Dec. 12, and began hearing testimony the next day. The testimony continued through Monday, Dec. 19, and the lawyers argued their cases Tuesday afternoon.
After listening a second time to the testimony of two witnesses, jurors got down to meaningful deliberations about 6 p.m. Tuesday. After telling Clem about 8:30 p.m. that they were deadlocked, he sent them home for the night. They returned to the courthouse at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, told him about 11:15 a.m. that they were deadlocked, then continued deliberating another two hours before telling him again they couldn't reach a verdict.
Assistant State's Attorney Dan Clifton said the case has been set for retrial on Feb. 27. Urbana attorney Alfred Ivy defended Franklin.
Franklin was 16 when the offense happened but wasn't criminally charged until August 2010. Police identified him and three other men as suspects through dogged persistence in chasing leads.
They ultimately got to co-defendant Jonathan Brumfield, now 22, who was serving a prison sentence for an unrelated crime. At Franklin's trial, Brumfield testified that he and co-defendant Laniel Bradley, 22, of Urbana, stayed outside in a car while Franklin and another man, Demarco Taylor, 20, of Urbana, went in the living quarters, intent on getting drugs and money from Mr. Ellis, who was a drug dealer.
Taylor was convicted of murder earlier this year and is serving a 40-year sentence. Bradley pleaded guilty in March to supplying the gun Franklin used and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Clifton said he's made an offer to Brumfield allowing him to plead guilty to concealment of a homicidal death in return for a recommendation that he serve no more than eight years in prison.
The offer was contingent on his truthful testimony and Clifton said he felt Brumfield was telling the truth when he told the jury that Franklin and Taylor went in and Taylor came out first followed by Franklin, who told the others he had killed Mr. Ellis.
Brumfield then drove Franklin to Walmart in Champaign, where they bought cleaning supplies to clean up the car and Franklin.
No date has been set for Brumfield's guilty plea. He's been in the Champaign County jail since March awaiting trial for Mr. Ellis' murder.
Other testimony that linked Franklin to the crime was DNA found on a shirt that was discarded in the path of flight of the car after the men left Joanne Lane. There was blood from Mr. Ellis and perspiration from Franklin on it.
Clifton also called fellow inmates from the Champaign County Jail to whom Franklin allegedly admitted his involvement in Mr. Ellis' death.