Attorneys for both sides in William ‘Polo’ Edwards murder trial don’t believe deadlocked jury was tainted

Court doesn’t know how many jurors would have voted guilty or not guilty because no vote was taken.
William Edwards murder trial ends with a hung jury.
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 6:49 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - News of Tuesday’s mistrial in the William ‘Polo’ Edwards murder trial spread like wildfire through social media, with supporters saying the state had no case against the former radio host and others wondering whether something might have tainted the jury.

Lawyers on both sides of this case stopped short of saying that when questioned by reporters, however.

“It’s important to note that many people on the jury found that William Edwards did commit this murder,” Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens said.

That number wasn’t enough to reach a unanimous decision.

The six-day murder trial ends with no verdict -- guilty or not guilty -- and both sides claiming a victory of sorts.

Defense attorney Tom Fortner, who called for a mistrial many times during the trial, most recently for the actions of Assistant District Attorney Gwen Agho, said he’s temporarily satisfied with Tuesday’s ruling.

“I’m more looking down the road to figure out what’s going to happen next. The district attorney’s office has to make some decisions that - I’m not the one that decides whether another trial happens or anything like that,” Fortner said.

Owens thanked the jurors who participated in the trial and a nearly seven-hour deliberation stretching across two days.

“While we disagree with the outcome, we think that it’s important to note that there was not a not guilty. There was not a not guilty, which means that people did think Mr. Edwards committed this crime. And we look forward to our day in court once again,” Owens said.

Edwards remains charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of 45-year-old Robert Davis in May of last year.

Fortner introduced a dozen examples to the jury of reasonable doubt in the case during Monday’s closing arguments, one being that he believed Shadow Robinson -- the state’s only eyewitness -- killed Davis.

Fortner also claimed the jury might be tainted when the judge pushed deliberations to a second day.

Now he says he has no reason to doubt their effort.

“When the jury comes in the box, and the judge asks them, ‘Okay, you all went home last night, did you read any social media? Did you get on the internet? Did you do anything that I told you not to do?’ When they say, ‘no, we didn’t,’ you know, I got to trust them,” Fortner said. “I mean, they’re the jurors, they’re decent people. So, I don’t have a problem with where we’re at right now.”

Owens said he plans to try the case again but must first wait for Judge Faye Peterson to schedule a trial date.

Davis’s family briefly told reporters they’re hopeful for the next trial.

“We are disappointed that we did not get the verdict today because this has been a long journey for us. I want everyone to please remember that justice delayed is not justice denied. We are looking forward to the verdict that we were waiting to hear today,” said Davis’s sister Jovitha Weaver.

Edwards remains behind bars and charged with murder, but Fortner said he plans to file a motion to ask the judge to set bond because of the mistrial.

That being said, Edwards could be considered a flight risk because shortly after Davis was killed, Edwards fled to New Orleans where law enforcement would later apprehend him.

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