Deadlocked jury in Drevon Johnson murder trial; DA draws ire of judge for second day in a row

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — After four days of deliberations, a Muscogee County Superior Court jury could not agree on the fate of Drevon Johnson. The jury deliberated for more than 21 hours before telling the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked.

The 28-year-old Johnson is accused of killing 23-year-old Richard Collier at what one witness described as a “party gone bad.”

Johnson, who was facing two murder charges and multiple gun charges, will be retried, District Attorney Mark Jones told News 3. After the trial, the jury foreman told News 3 the jury was deadlocked 8-4 in favor of not guilty.

The trial started on April 19 and the jury got the case Friday and has deliberated over four days. At the end of the day Monday, the jury foreman told Judge Ron Mullins that they were deadlocked 8-4; there was no indication at that time which way the jury was leaning.

First thing Wednesday morning, Mullins told the attorneys he planned to bring the jury back in before lunch and ask about the status.

That did not happen after jurors asked for hard copies of two large stacks of text messages from two of the men who were with Johnson at the May 14, 2016 party. It took several hours to print them, so Mullins sent the jury out at 11:30 a.m. for a two-hour lunch break.

Mullins was back on the bench just before 1:30 and defense counsel Anthony Johnson was at his spot in the courtroom. The district attorney was late and this irritated Mullins. After waiting for three minutes, he informed court staff to notify him when Jones arrived.

The district attorney was more than five minutes late. After the documents were certified and taken back to jurors, Mullins asked Jones why he was late.

It created the following exchange between the judge and the DA.

Mullins: “Did I tell you to be back at 1:30 today, sir?”

Jones: “I am sorry, judge. I thought it was 2. I have been trying real hard to be on time. I know that bothers you. So, I do apologize.”

Mullins: “It has nothing to do with me. It has a great deal to do with the dignity of the court and its proceedings. And it shows great disrespect for the jurors. Everybody was here on time. In the future, try to be on time.”

It was the second consecutive day that Jones had come under scrutiny from Mullins. Tuesday, the judge questioned the DA about an objectionable Facebook post that Jones put on the victim’s sister’s Facebook page.

The post was brought the court’s attention, Mullins said. In it, Jones posted he wished he could tell the jury about Drevon Johnson’s past criminal record. That has been excluded from the court proceedings.

Jones was elected district attorney last year on the strength of an unorthodox social media campaign. COVID-19 restrictions shut down trials across Georgia for almost a year. Trials resumed a month ago and this is the first murder case that Jones has prosecuted.

It is the second murder trial that Jones’ office has brought to verdict.

After deliberating for 22 hours over four days in March, the Superior Court jury came back with a not guilty decision on all three counts Nathaniel Lee Ghant Washington, III, was facing, two murder charges and one count of child cruelty. Jones was not the lead prosecutor on that case.

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