Mistrial declared in case of Mississippi father, son accused of shooting at Black FedEx driver

Published 4:22 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

Judge David Strong ruled the Mississippi v. Case trial a mistrial Thursday morning citing testimony from key witness Vincent Fernando, a detective with the Brookhaven Police Department. 

Dan Kitchens, the defense attorney for Brandon Case, made the motion for mistrial with Terrell Stubbs making a joint motion on behalf of his client Gregory Case. 

Brandon and Gregory were indicted by a grand jury in Nov. 2022 on charges of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder and shooting into a motor vehicle driven by FedEx driver D’Monterrio Gibson in January 2022. Jury members never made it to their seats and Gibson, expected to take the witness stand today, was escorted out of the courtroom before the mistrial was declared. 

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Kitchens argued Fernando is a member of the prosecution team and he violated court orders and rules regarding evidence. Once he brought up shell casings which were excluded from preliminary evidence, he blurted out he found long guns in a search warrant which Strong had to admonish the jury to forget the evidence and the third time he produced discovery which had been requested many times by both parties but was never turned over. 

District Attorney Dee Bates objected for the State but said he understood the mistrial motion. 

“There was a disk of the interview conducted with Mr. Gibson. We both asked for it. We had hearings and meetings for discovery. We met with him, the defense met with him last week. The state is shocked at the new evidence. We object to a mistrial. I would have liked Mr. Gibson to listen to the testimony today. He went out to protect the integrity of his testimony.” 

Strong said a rule was violated in the court proceedings and therefore he must grant a mistrial. It was something he said he had not seen in 19 years. 

“No one hates a mistrial more than the court. We are in the position of coming back here. Under the circumstances and the totality of circumstances, failure to follow the rules is something that can’t be ignored. It happened here and we have no choice but to grant a motion for mistrial.” 

Back to square one

Mississippi v. Case will go right back to the trial docket and have to go through the pre-trial process. A new date for trial will have to be set along with a new jury selected. Bates said he is not sure if he will still be the DA for the case when it goes back to trial. 

“We obviously have some discovery issues which need to be fixed. I have no idea if I’ll still be the DA for the case. I’m in office until December 31, 2023 at 11:59 p.m,” Bates said. “It is frustrating but it is more frustrating to others.”

Venting frustration

Gibson’s mother Sharon McClendon had to be escorted out of the courtroom as she cursed aloud when she heard the news, and put her head in her hands. She continued to utter expletives as state troopers walked her out. 

Outside the courthouse, Sharon London was upset with the work done by Brookhaven Police Department. She is a former resident of Brookhaven who lives in Irondale, Alabama. Her sister Bridget London Hall was killed in Brookhaven but no one has been arrested or charged in the case. London is a huge advocate for justice for her sister and Gibson. 

“It is not a surprise to me. The Brookhaven Police do a bad job of detecting and investigating,” London said. “I’m still fighting for justice for my sister. This is not surprising to me. They can not take these cases to trial because they do not have the evidence they need. The fact has been proven and they have seen there is a problem. The Department of Justice needs to take control of the department.”

The Brookhaven Police Department was criticized heavily by the Lincoln County Grand Jury in a letter published in July. Brookhaven Police Chief Kenny Collins responded to the letter by saying his department works hard to protect life and property.