Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dowdy - Mistrial Declared

☛ TS Dowdy acquitted of murder
Thomas Dowdy Jr. was acquitted of second-degree murder in the Christmas Eve shooting death of David Steed on Thursday, but the court declared a mistrial on the lesser manslaughter charge due to a hung jury.

The foreman told the court the jury was deadlocked 11-1 on the manslaughter charge after voting on the matter four or five times during more than three days of deliberation. Sources told the Times-Standard the 11 jurors voted not guilty on the manslaughter charge, but prosecutor Ben McLaughlin and Dowdy's attorney, Blair Angus, would not comment on which way the vote fell.

McLaughlin did say that the one opposing juror refused to engage in deliberations.

”My understanding is that when they got to the manslaughter, this juror had his or her mind made up and would not deliberate,” McLaughlin said.

☛ ER Dowdy’s future remains unclear after mistrial declared
Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin said a decision will be made next week on how to proceed with the case against Dowdy, who’s accused of shooting and killing David Steed after a confrontation over stolen firewood escalated.

The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office has three options — dismiss the case, negotiate a plea deal or proceed with a new manslaughter trial. “A new trial is highly unlikely, but that decision hasn’t been made yet,” McLaughlin said. For now, Dowdy remains in custody at the Humboldt County jail.

☛ TS Jury: Dowdy not guilty of murder
Fortuna resident Thomas Dowdy Jr. was found not guilty of second-degree murder this morning in the Christmas Eve shooting death of David Steed.

The jury was hung 11 to 1 on a charge of manslaughter. It was not clear how the vote was divided.

The jury deliberated for three days before reaching its verdict after 11 a.m.

☛ ER Thomas Dowdy Jr. not guilty of first degree murder
☛ ER Mistrial declared in Dowdy manslaughter case
A Humboldt County Superior Court judge declared a mistrial Thursday in the voluntary manslaughter case against 22-year-old Thomas Dowdy Jr. Before doing so, the jury acquitted Dowdy of the second-degree murder charge. The jury foreman stated the jurors voted at least four to five times on whether to convict Dowdy of voluntary manslaughter, and the vote was consistently 11-1. It's unclear which side was in favor of convicting the Fortuna man.

Dowdy, who remains in the Humboldt County jail, has a new pre-trial scheduled for August 12. Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin said one juror apparently wasn't deliberating and when the voluntary manslaughter charge was discussed, the juror's mind was already made up.

Update: ☛ ER Dowdy pleads guilty to misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter 7/29/08
Thomas Dowdy Jr. has been released from the Humboldt County jail or will be released later today with time served. He has been in custody since late January for the Christmas eve 2007 murder of Fortuna resident David Steed.

The jury found him not guilty last week of second-degree murder but was deadlocked regarding the voluntary manslaughter charge. The judge declared a mistrial last week because of that deadlock.

The family of Steed was visibly upset in court today.

☛ TS Dowdy to be released today
Thomas Dowdy Jr. will be released from the Humboldt County jail today after entering a plea of no contest to manslaughter at 2 p.m.

For the misdemeanor crime, Dowdy was sentenced to time already served without probation, and is to be discharged after he is processed at the jail, where he serves 190 days since January, following the Christmas Eve 2007 shooting death of Fortuna resident David Steed.

During his trial, Dowdy faced second-degree murder charges after fatally shooting Steed twice -- in the back and elbow.
After two weeks of testimony, the jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder, but deadlocked on the manslaughter charge, 11-1 in favor of Dowdy's innocence.


  1. The verdict is in: No Humans Involved.

  2. Maybe the jury kind of agreed that it was kinda self defense, in a weird kind of way.

  3. When will we know which way the
    11 were leaning on the mistrial?

    That Angus lady is a very effective

  4. need to update the ER link. they posted another story

  5. I think they are updating but keeping the same link, but I posted the latest just in case. Both the ER and the TS are totally on top of all the breaking news today.

  6. Courthouse sources indicate the jury was 11-1 NOT Guilty for manslaughter.

  7. Yeah, That's the word I'm getting, too. That's pretty nearly a complete not guilty.

    I figure it is the meth 'tweaker' factor - and the clear and present danger of a guy coming into your house and threatening to kill you and your wife and kids - kinda makes it justifiable. But that's just my take from afar.

    So the one holdout figured the guy was guilty and wasn't going to change his mind. Interesting.

  8. Sad for the Steed's. They lost someone dear to them, regardless of his lifestyle.

    Hats off to Blair, who tried a great case.

  9. He shot the guy in the back. Several times. Humboldt juries. Droolers.

  10. droolers? maybe not. isnt this the case where the coroner/pathologist, the prosecution's own expert, stated that the injuries on Mr. Steed indicated that he was standing up when he was hit by the truck? I assure you, the autopsy would have been done very soon after the death. But isnt this also the case where the prosecution then immunized young Mr Steed so that he would come to court and tell the jury that he ran his truck into Mr.Dowdy because Dowdy was standing over his prone father, about to shoot father Steed in the head? So the DA made a deal to get testimony that their own reliable expert was, in effect, saying was a lie? Maybe the jury found that offensive? Maybe the jury should not be alone. Maybe we all deserve an explanation as to why young Mr. Steed was given a deal to come to court and say Dowdy was standing over a prone older Steed, when the coroner, who did not need a deal to testify, had come to, in effect, the exact opposite conclusion.

  11. Actually, 9:22, you haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about.

    First, the Humboldt County Coroner didn't come up with a cause of death.

    Second--and this is what I think you meant--the forensic pathologist said that she could not determine whether the deceased was standing or kneeling at the time Steed was impacted by the truck.

    The CHP officer who testifed said that Steed was standing. Evan, the son, said he had his head down and drove in the direction of Mr. Dowdy, whereupon he struck both men.

    Perhaps Mr. Steed recognized the truck and attempted to stand??? Otherwise, Evan was looking where he was going and intentionally drove over his father. That must be it, right?

    The forensic pathologist testified that there was so much muscle damage to Mr. Steed--due to gun shot--that he couldn't breath or maintain his posture. Perhaps Evan saw his father slumped over, not on his knees. Perhaps he was mistaken. Have you ever witnessed your father being shot?

    The other alternative is that Evan was panicked, wasn't thinking clearly. You ever think of that?

    Aside from the kneeling/standing issue, every single piece of objective scientific evidence found by the DOJ corroborated Evan's testimony.

    Until you know something, stop commenting.

  12. One shot self defense,OK, two maybe. The shot in the back ........... uncalled for, there was no threat.

  13. Is that true or is that our cultural conditioning - in the old westerns shooting someone in the back was the lowest form of low. But we're light years away from that now. If it's self defense is it self defense no matter how many shots, and even if in the back?

  14. "aside from the kneeling or standing" Aside? How, exactly, do you put that aside? The DA bought testimony explicitly portraying Dowdy as standing over a prone Steed getting ready to shoot him in the head. Aside from the coroner's evidence that Mr. Steed was NOT prone, what "scientific" evidence was there that he WAS prone? And again, why did the DA give a deal to get testimony which the coroner could not support? Oh, wait, it must have been supported by all kinds of scientific evidence that the jury, like me, just missed.

  15. Droning Continues...7/25/2008 10:53 AM

    I agree with Rose that the "meth" card probably played a big role in the 11 juror's decision to vote not guilty.

    With such a stigma associated with the drug, the jurors maybe couldn't see beyond that. I mean, it certainly begs the question whether a meth user is a credible witness.

    Either way, this trial was interesting. Oh, and no way can anyone claim self-defense when shooting someone in the back. Temporary insanity, maybe. Self-defense, I don't think so.

  16. Once he was shot in the elbow with a high powered rifle the guys is no real threat, except bleeding on your carpet. Nothing to do with the old west. Just cause he's a tweeker doesn't mean it's OK to finish him off.

  17. unarmed and shot twice in the back, and the jury votes 23 to 1 to let him go? (12-0 on murder, 11-1 on manslaughter). A strong hint that indeed, people are sick and tired of meth, and that the prosecution, for whatever reason, had zero credibility. Manslaughter should have been a gimme.

  18. Pot growing and pot violence is OK, and now it's OK to give a coup de gras to a severely wounded "tweeker".

    how progressive


Comments are open, but moderated, for the time-being. Good luck.