Judge declares mistrial in case of one brother accused of Oakwood home invasion

ablythe@newsobserver.comMarch 17, 2014 

— A day that was supposed to start the trial of two brothers accused in a string of Wake County home invasions ended with a mistrial for one brother and a misstep that resulted in an abandoned plea deal for the other.

Jahaad Tariem Marshall, 27, and his brother, Shabar Master Marshall, 17, were arrested in January 2013 and accused of carrying out an early-morning burglary and shooting at a home in Raleigh’s historic Oakwood neighborhood. The invasion ended with a man paralyzed from a gunshot wound to the spine and his wife a victim of sexual assault.

The brothers, both Wake County residents, also were accused in a series of home invasions in late 2012 and early 2013 that left several neighborhoods with a lingering sense of unease.

Wake County prosecutors had planned to try the brothers together, but Shabar Marshall entered guilty pleas to some but not all of the incidents earlier this month.

Jahaad Marshall planned to fight the charges at trial this week, arguing that evidence gathered did not put him at the crime scenes. But George Kelly, the attorney representing Shabar Marshall, hampered that defense strategy.

Kelly told the jury during his opening statement that Shabar Marshall and his brother were guilty of the crimes to which the younger had pleaded guilty.

Deonte Thomas, the Raleigh lawyer representing Jahaad Marshall, had told the jury just minutes earlier during the joint trial that there was no evidence to implicate his client.

Thomas immediately moved for a mistrial after Kelly’s statement.

Judge Henry Hight heard from Assistant Wake County District Attorney Boz Zellinger, who argued against a mistrial but ruled for Thomas.

Hight found that Kelly’s opening statement had “created undue prejudice” against the older brother. Hight not only agreed to the mistrial, but he also called for trying the brothers separately.

Selection for a new jury in the Jahaad Marshall case will begin Tuesday.

Later Monday afternoon, Shabar Marshall was back in Wake County Superior Court, standing before Judge Hight in what had been billed as another plea hearing.

The younger Marshall already is serving a seven- to eight-year sentence for charges he was convicted of last year related to a burglary on Dec. 11, 2012. He awaits sentencing for the crimes committed inside the Lane Street home on Jan. 7, 2013, and a Sherry Drive house on Dec. 30, 2012.

On Monday afternoon, Shabar Marshall agreed to an Alford plea for the break-ins he was accused of being involved with on Dec. 25 and 26, 2012. With an Alford plea, the accused acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to lead to a guilty verdict, but he does not acknowledge guilt in the crime.

Zellinger, the prosecutor, had not held out such an offering as part of an acceptable plea and removed his offer late Monday. Zellinger only was willing to accept acknowledgment of guilt with a nod toward a more lenient sentence or nothing at all.

Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1

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