Judge declares mistrial in Baltimore murder case

 June 5, 2024

A judge declared a mistrial last week for a man accused of the attempted murder of his fiancee in Baltimore after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict. 

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Melissa M. Phinn was forced to declare the case against Larry Winder III a mistrial on May 30 after the jury could not agree on his guilt or innocence.

Winder, 31, was accused of shooting his fiancee, 26, in the head in August 2023. The victim originally thought that she had been hit with a bat until the hospital determined she had been shot.

Winder faced charges of attempted first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, illegal possession of ammunition, carrying a handgun on his person, discharging a firearm in Baltimore City and firearm use in a felony violent crime.

Many red flags

His attorney Roland Harris argued that there were many red flags in the case.

Medical records did not conclusively prove that the victim was shot, and witnesses could not put the two together on the night she was attacked.

“There is no physical eyewitness that can say they were together that night,” Harris said during the trial.

The judge granted a defense motion that Winder would be acquitted of the illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition charges at the same time the mistrial was declared.

This means that even if prosecutors decided to move forward with a new trial against Winder, he would face fewer charges the second time.

Many mistrials

Nearly 19% of trials in Baltimore ended in mistrial since 2021, a much higher number than the 6.6% mistrial rate that was seen nationwide in state trials in the 1990s, according to another study.

Most mistrials occur due to a hung jury, but they can also occur if the prosecutor, defense attorney, or judge makes a mistake while presenting or ajudicating the case.

If evidence is presented or talked about that was not made available to the other side, the result could be a mistrial.

Another possible reason for a mistrial is if one of the court officials has a conflict of interest and doesn't reveal it until the trial is already underway.

If a mistrial is requested by the defense, but is not granted, it may give the defense grounds for a later appeal of the case by a higher court.

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