Montez Warren was acquitted Thursday of all 14 counts he faced, including first-degree murder, in connection with the shooting death of Ervin Lamont Griffin. He has been held more than two years while he awaited trial.
Warren’s younger brother, David Warren, was found guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday by the same jury.
During trial prosecutors argued that on May 13, 2011, Griffin was dragged from his car during a robbery attempt, and when he didn’t have anything they could take, the brothers shot him in the neck. Defense attorneys say that the evidence connecting their clients is full of holes and that there are other possible suspects in Griffin’s death.
A partial verdict for Montez was read Wednesday afternoon but the complete verdict including one count of first-degree murder and for possession of a firearm during a crime of violence was sealed until Thursday morning.
Moments before the verdict was read, Montez’s defense attorney, Madalyn Harvey, asked the court for a mistrial saying that one juror had contact with Warren’s father and sister outside the courthouse this week and on one occasion, Warren’s sister smelled alcohol on the juror’s breath.
Judge Winston individually asked the remaining eleven jurors if they had any knowledge of any jurors having contact with any member of Warren’s family and if they had smelled alcohol on any juror’s breath during trial or deliberations.
One of the jurors recalled the juror talking about a compliment it received from someone the juror thought could be a relative about a hat it was wearing outside the courthouse. No jurors reported smelling alcohol on any fellow jurors.
After the jury read the verdict to a packed courtroom, Judge Rhonda Winston scheduled 30-year-old Montez’s release.
“My baby is coming home,” Warren’s girlfriend told Homicide Watch as she left the courtroom.