A judge Monday declared a mistrial in the murder trial of a Buffalo man charged with fatally shooting a man from whom he allegedly tried to steal marijuana.
Prosecutors accused Darryl D. Jones Jr., 23, of Hertel Avenue, of arranging to meet Stephen Sanders on the night of Dec. 5 on Marigold Street to buy marijuana from him.
Instead, Jones shot Sanders, 28, while trying to steal the marijuana, prosecutors said.
But after three days of deliberations, jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict.
Some of the 13 notes that jurors sent to State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia indicated one juror held out against the other 11.
In a final note Monday, jurors wrote, "We are unable to reach a unanimous decision," and no further testimony or evidence was going to change the hold-out juror's mind.
"It appears the jury is deadlocked," Buscaglia said in discharging the jurors and scheduling a second trial in January.
Sanders was behind the wheel of a GMC Envoy when he was shot, and the sport utility vehicle proceeded down the 100 block of Marigold, striking several other vehicles, prosecutors said.
The key for both the prosecution and defense was the identification of Jones as the shooter.
Two other men in the Envoy during the fatal attack testified in court that Jones was the shooter.
"All this over some marijuana," homicide prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable told jurors last week.
"[Sanders] deserves justice like anybody else. He didn't deserve to die because he was trying to make money selling marijuana," said Curtin Gable, who, with Assistant District Attorney Sydney Probst, prosecuted Jones.
But defense lawyer Jeremy Schwartz cast doubt on the eyewitness testimony.
One of the two witnesses, a middleman who said he arranged the meeting between Jones and Sanders, could not be trusted to tell the truth because of his criminal background and statements he made during his testimony, Schwartz said.
Also, the other witness, a Sanders friend, could not have had enough time to get a good look at the shooter, who was said to be dressed in black and wearing a hoodie, Schwartz said.
While the friend said he was 100 percent certain of the shooter's identity, Schwartz discounted the assertion.
"That's just not possible," he told jurors.
"That's not an identification that gives us certainty beyond a reasonable doubt."
After the judge declared the mistrial, Schwartz said identification was the central issue that led to the deadlock.
During the trial, prosecutors described what they believe happened the night Sanders was shot.
Jones walked toward the Envoy with a gun in his hand and said, "You know what time it is," Curtin Gable told jurors earlier in the trial.
After struggling over the gun with another of the occupants in the Envoy, Jones fired a bullet through Sanders' back.
Sanders was rushed to Erie County Medical Center, where he was declared dead.