After 14 hours of deliberations, a mistrial was declared Friday in St. Charles County in the case of a man charged with murder in the 2015 pursuit death of a Missouri State Trooper.
Prosecutors say Missouri State Trooper James Bava was killed in a pursuit in mid-Missouri’s Audrain County in August 2015. The jury deliberated for about 14 hours on Thursday and Friday, and Columbia television station KMIZ reports the jury wrote that the “minority position” of the group wouldn’t budge.
The jury didn’t say which way that group leaned.
Authorities say Comerzan was speeding on a motorcycle that Bava was chasing, when Bava crashed.
The incident happened on Route FF near Mexico, Missouri … and the trial was moved from Audrain to St. Charles County on a change of venue.
Audrain County Prosecutor Jacob Shellabarger has issued a statement, which says a second trial will take place later this year in St. Charles. Shellabarger says Comerzan is still charged with second degree murder and resisting arrest.
Shellabarger commends the trial jury “for their focus, dedication and thorough commitment to fully considering the law as applied to the facts of this case.”
Shellabarger says jurors are hesitant to convict of murder “based on actions that they believe don’t look like what they expect of murder. Missouri’s murder statutes need to be changed to reflect that this crime is different than “typical” murder- it is the commission of a felony resulting in death. Beyond a reasonable doubt is a high standard, and for good reason.”
Missouri House General Laws Committee Chairman Robert Cornejo (R-St. Peters) tweeted at Missourinet Friday after reading Shellabarger’s statement. Representative Cornejo asks what needs to be changed, adding that “the criminal code was just revised with prosecutors having a big say in it.”
Chairman Cornejo emphasizes that he is not challenging Prosecutor Shellabarger, adding that he’s “more than happy” to help if a fix is needed.
Shellabarger expresses his sympathy with Bava’s family, as well as members of the Audrain County law enforcement community.
The St. Charles County Circuit Judge who presided over the trial was Ted House, who’s a former State Senator.