Local News

Juror's Comment Forces Mistrial In Timothy Blackwell Case

Posted March 13, 2002 7:52 a.m. EST

— The family of a child killed by an alleged drunk driver will have to wait four more months to find out what will happen to Timothy Blackwell after a juror's comment forced a Durham County judge to declare a mistrial in the case.

Blackwell was found guilty of first-degree murder for the death of Megan Dail during a 1997 DWI accident.

The Supreme Court later overturned that conviction.

During jury selection in Blackwell's second trial Monday, a potential juror made a comment referring to Blackwell's previous conviction. Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson then declared a mistrial, saying the selected jurors could not consider the case fairly as a result of the comment.

Though frustrated at the delay, Durham County District Attorney Jim Hardin said Hudson's call for a mistrial was necessary.

"I believe it was the appropriate thing to do," Hardin said.

Hardin said the judge made the right decision, and that the delay will not hurt his case.

"This family obviously wants to see justice done for their child. That's our objective," he said. "That's what we're going to do, pursue it as long as it takes to make sure Megan Dail and her family receives justice."

Another problem with the trial was that Blackwell decided to represent himself and then changed his mind, so the judge appointed attorney Joey Wilson to represent Blackwell.

"There were problems with him not having counsel," Wilson said. "He had trouble trying to be part of the process. It was frustrating for a lot of people in the courtroom."

The whole ordeal is frustrating for the Dails, who remember every detail about 4-year-old Megan.

"It's hard to imagine. We picture her still growing. We think of her as she was then," said Sherry Dail, Megan's mother.

Blackwell must return to court on July 1. Blackwell's attorney said the biggest challenge will be making sure jurors are not already biased about the case, which has received extensive news coverage.