Jan. 12—Update: Latest in vehicular homicide case that killed Gainesville teen
After about four hours of deliberation Thursday, the jury in the Shannon Beauford vehicular homicide trial could not reach a verdict.
Beauford, 28, faces two counts of first-degree vehicular homicide, one count of second-degree child cruelty and other driving-related charges.
Law enforcement testified Beauford drove roughly twice the speed limit Oct. 4, 2020, on White Sulphur Road and wrecked a Toyota Corolla, killing 17-year-old passenger Madison Nicole Gray, of Gainesville.
The jury took the case around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11 and deliberated until 8 p.m. that night.
Deal received a note around 10 a.m. Thursday from the jury saying they were not unanimous on their verdict "and do not believe that will change."
Because of the relatively short time the jury had deliberated, Deal wrote a note to the jury to take a 10-minute break and then continue their work.
"The only thing I don't want to happen is for them to feel like they are pressured into changing their minds," defense attorney Karen Pass told Deal.
After 11 a.m., Deal asked the jury foreperson to tell the court what the splits were on the different counts of the indictment without indicating whether they were leaning to convict or acquit.
The jury then sent out a note stating they were 9-3 on the vehicular homicide and other driving-related charges but were 8-4 on the child cruelty charge.
After a lunch break, Deal gave the jury instructions about reaching an unanimous decision if possible, though it should be the conclusion of each juror and not the "acquiescence of the jurors in order to reach an agreement."
Beyond his trial duties, Deal also presides over Drug Court, an accountability court program that aims to rehabilitate offenders and offer other assistance to reduce recidivism.
Because it would be difficult to address the jury's questions and concerns while presiding over Drug Court, Deal excused the jury for the day and asked them to return at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 13 for further deliberations.
If the case is not decided, Deal said the case could be retried in early February.
Pass asked Deal if the trial transcripts would be available before then should a second trial become necessary, to which the judge said it would not be likely. The defense said it would need the transcripts to potentially impeach witnesses about their prior statements under oath.