MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 7, 2013

Murder trial jury deadlocks

Two votes remain unmoved, foreman says; defendant faces retrial in July

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A jury could not decide Wednesday whether a Muskogee man was guilty of felony murder in the 2011 shooting death of Roshun English.

Jurors deliberated for four hours before announcing that they could not agree on the fate of Jacorey Billings.

Billings, 22, is accused of being one of four men who robbed English on Nov. 11, 2011. English, 35, was shot and killed by Dawaan Norwood, who is serving a life sentence for murder.

Assistant District Attorney Dan Medlock had argued that although Billings didn’t kill English, Billings gave the gun to Norwood and was part of the robbery gang. Two cell phones, a wallet and a set of rims were reported taken from English’s home in the 900 block of South Fourth Street.

Deliberations began about 2:30 p.m., and jurors first emerged three hours later. Jury foreman Jon Quillman told District Judge Mike Norman the group was deadlocked 10-2. He didn’t specify whether it was 10 votes for not guilty or 10 votes for guilty.

Quillman told Norman that he did not think more time would help the group of seven men and five women come to a decision. Norman instructed them to deliberate for another hour.

When they returned, Quillman said the group had still not reached a decision.

Medlock said Billings will return to jail to await a retrial with a new jury in July.

“Essentially, none of this happened, in a way,” he said.

English’s mother, Deborah English, said family members were disappointed with the decision, but they would rather have a hung jury than an acquittal.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” she said.

Billings’ attorney, Donn Baker, told jurors during his closing argument that Billings had gone to English’s house only to retrieve rims that belonged to Billings. He couldn’t have known that Norwood, Schiavone Anderson and Romonne Johnson planned to rob English, the lawyer argued.

Norwood and Anderson were convicted of first-degree felony murder in October and are serving life sentences. Johnson pleaded to a lesser charge of first-degree robbery as a youthful offender in exchange for his testimony in the case.

The phones and wallet were found in an abandoned house not far from English’s home. None of Billings’ fingerprints or DNA was found on them.

“My client is asking you to use your common sense,” Baker said. “Would you commit a robbery at 10 a.m. in broad daylight? ... There’s absolutely no evidence he knew the wallet and cell phones were taken.”

Medlock argued that testimony by Johnson and English’s girlfriend, Dana Webb, indicated Billings had entered the house and told the three others to “look for anything of value.”

“Just because he didn’t pick up the wallet and cell phones doesn’t mean he didn’t know what was going on,” Medlock said. “That doesn’t prove it wasn’t a robbery just because they didn’t do (the robbery) in the way Mr. Baker thinks a robbery should be done.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.