Sacramento prosecutors are facing a decision on whether to retry a man for murder in a shooting death investigators believe resulted from a disputed $40 hair weave.
A jury last week failed to reach a verdict in the case against Lionel Lee Jenkins, and Sacramento Superior Court Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan declared a mistrial.
The panel’s vote was 7-5 for acquittal, officials said.
Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard said Monday that prosecutors in his office were still discussing the case and whether to retry Jenkins, 33, in the April 19, 2013, killing of 25-year-old Jordan Parker in the Cancun Plaza Apartments in North Sacramento.
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“We obviously respect the jurors for working real hard at trying to get a verdict,” Norgaard said. “We’re going to review everything and the potential for further investigation and whether we have a reasonable likelihood of convicting him on a second go-round.
“If we come to the conclusion that we don’t, we’re ethically obligated to dismiss the case. If we believe we have a reasonable likelihood of convicting him, we’ll go forward.”
Norgaard characterized the jurors’ vote as “a bad split,” but he said his office will continue to “mull it over.”
The jury was in its fifth day of deliberations Dec. 22 when it decided it could not reach a verdict in the murder case.
Jenkins is scheduled to return to court Monday.
Although the panel didn’t arrive at a decision on the murder count against Jenkins, it did acquit him and co-defendant Muhammad Joseph Ivy Jr., 28, on charges that they tried to dissuade a witness before trial.
Jenkins’ attorney, Linda Parisi, said she spoke to members of the jury after the mistrial and credited the panel with being “very responsible and committed to carefully going through the evidence.”
According to the prosecution’s theory of the case, Parker’s girlfriend had given Jenkins’ daughter a hair weave. When the customer was dissatisfied with the job and refused to pay for it, Parker went over to the apartment building on Plaza Avenue, confronted Jenkins and was shot to death, according to Deputy District Attorney Jeff Hightower’s trial brief.
Testimony in the trial did not begin until after 13 days of pretrial motions that focused on a key prosecution witness and her previous standing as a paid informant for the Sacramento Police Department.
Parisi and Assistant Public Defender Rod Simpson, who represented Ivy, sought to have the testimony of the witness, Debra Little, excluded from the trial on grounds that prosecutors could not produce the “red file” that the Police Department maintained on her as an informant.
Meegan denied the defense motion, but at trial, Little’s testimony was inconsistent with previous statements she gave to police, and she repeatedly told the jury she didn’t remember or didn’t know what she had previously said to investigators.
Little had told detectives she had seen Jenkins shoot Parker in the apartment complex, but she stopped short of saying that at trial.
The defense lawyers also questioned the testimony of another purported eyewitness to the killing, Ainslee Greer Jr. A convicted drug dealer, Greer testified at the preliminary hearing for Jenkins and Ivy that he used his account of the fatal shooting as “leverage” to work out a deal on an arrest he picked up for possession of 135 grams of crack cocaine.
“It was hard for the jury to find reliable and credible information,” Parisi said, based on her post-trial conversation with jurors.
Little and Greer, she said, “just lacked credibility. They appeared to be motivated by a lot of different reasons.”
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.