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.