After key eyewitness was shot to death, jury deadlocks in Miami murder trial

Jurors have deadlocked in the murder trial against Julio Morris, the Miami man also accused of ordering the assassination of the key eyewitness in the case against him.

A jury late Thursday announced it could not reached an unanimous verdict against Morris in the 2012 slaying of Jazmon Parker, who was gunned down execution-style outside a home in Liberty City. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alberto Milian declared a mistrial and now prosecutors will have a second chance to convict Morris.

Morris was originally set to be tried for the Parker murder in January. But days before jury selection was to start, one of the chief witnesses, a neighbor named Ezell Finklea, 61, was gunned down while in his car in North Miami-Dade.

Finklea and another man, Ira Williams, 70, were killed when a gunman walked up to their car and fired more than a dozen shots. The trial was postponed, and Morris became the immediate suspect in the slaying of Finklea, a military veteran who had testified repeatedly against the man.

Morris’ trial for the 2012 case finally began earlier this month. During trial, prosecutors charged Morris and two other men with the Finklea murder, although jurors were not allowed to know details about the new case, or Finklea’s murder.

Prosecutors believe Morris, while in jail, asked his cousin, Howard Waters, to arrange the hit on Finklea.

Cell service records placed Waters near the scene of the crime when the bullets flew. Surveillance footage also placed him at the scene, and even approaching Finklea just before the shooting in the parking lot of a store, according to court documents.

Waters and another man, James Kelly, have also been jailed and charged with the murder.

Back in court, prosecutors relied on other witnesses in the 2012 murder, while defense lawyers Stuart Adelstein and David Peckins argued that the state did not have enough evidence to prove guilt.

Jurors deliberated a couple hours Wednesday night and all day Thursday before announcing late in the day they could not reach a unanimous verdict.