Local News

Judge Dismisses Juror In Allen Murder Trial

Posted November 16, 2006 5:18 a.m. EST

— A juror in the trial of a man found guilty of killing a retired schoolteacher told the presiding judge Thursday that she was bullied into voting to convict the defendant on first-degree murder charges.

The juror also told the court that she could not vote for the death penalty because her son had died at an early age.

The revelation came early in the afternoon after the jury sent a note to the court asking that Juror No. 6 be removed from the jury that convicted Ezavia Allen, 20, of gunning down Shirley Newkirk, 63, in the driveway of her Raleigh home last year.

Judge James C. Spencer then called several jurors to his chambers to talk with them. He later dismissed the juror and seated an alternate juror for the sentencing phase.

He is expected to meet with Juror No. 6 on Friday. The jury is expected to reconvene Friday morning.

As a result of Thursday's developments, the defense filed a motion for a mistrial, but Spencer denied the motion.

Prosecutors said Newkirk's shooting death was the culmination of a two-week crime spree by Allen and two other men.

Newkirk's daughters testified Wednesday in the sentencing phase of Allen's trial about their loss, bringing almost everyone in a packed courtroom to tears.

Allen's older sister testified on his behalf, describing a childhood filled with drugs, crime and mayhem. Several of Allen's grade-school teachers described Allen as a class clown and a sweet young man who needed direction.

The jury has the option to sentence Allen to death or to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

It was not immediately clear how Juror No. 6's dismissal might affect the case.