Another set of jurors could not agree on whether if Austin Tybre Ford, 22, murdered high school friend Tori Lang, 18. They deadlocked on Friday with eight in favor of conviction and four in favor of acquittal.
This is Ford’s second trial.
A judge declared a mistrial on May 1. Jurors convicted Ford of theft by taking and one count of concealing the death of another, but they deadlocked on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. They could not agree on whether or not he killed Lang. That deadlock played out again on Friday.
The judge scheduled a hearing to take place Wednesday to discuss whether prosecutors will seek a retrial again or move forward on sentencing in the adjudicated charges.
The defense lawyer, Lawrence Lewis, summed up the key question in this trial.
“We just need to determine who pulled the trigger,” he said in closing arguments on Thursday.
According to authorities in Gwinnett County, Georgia, Ford told investigators that the victim had killed herself despite his attempts to stop her.
But authorities said he shot her in the head and left her body in the middle of the night in July 2021. He burned out her car and left it in a nature preserve, prosecutor Norris Lewis told jurors.
Defense lawyer Lewis pointed out that Gwinnett County Chief Medical Examiner Carol Terry could not determine if Lang died of a homicide or suicide.
The 18-year-old sustained a gunshot wound 10 to 12 inches from her head. Defense lawyer Lewis suggested it was plausible for her to hold the gun.
“Dr. Terry can’t tell if you if it’s a suicide or a homicide,” he said. “Dr. Terry has to be able to tell you it’s a homicide in order for you to tell Austin Ford he’s guilty of murder.”
“I got no clue why the prosecutor tried to dislocate his shoulder yesterday trying to do something crazy like it’s the O.J. case!” Defense turns to the prosecutor, “Are you for real?”
Passionate closing arguments from the defense in #AustinFord. pic.twitter.com/1nl1anm2BV
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) August 10, 2023
Ford repeatedly lied to family and police after the shooting, Norris Lewis said. The state noted that the defendant did not step forward regarding his involvement or call for authorities to help Lang after the shooting.
“He went to her funeral knowing that he left her dead in the dark by herself in Yellow River Park,” the prosecutor said.
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