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Jury can’t decide DUI verdict

A jury was unable to unanimously decide Tuesday whether aLincoln County man was driving drunk or, as he claimed, strugglingwith a truck thief when he ran through a sheriff’s departmentroadblock last Oct. 20.

Wooddell Jackson, 46, of 805 Saints Trail, was on trial forfelony DUI in connection with the incident that happened atapproximately 10 p.m. around the Saints Trail and BrookwayBoulevard Extension intersection.

In opening statements of the one-day trial, Assistant DistrictAttorney Diane Jones said the case was fairly straight-forward withevidence to show Jackson was driving while intoxicated.

Defense attorney Raymond Boutwell, however, said the facts ofthe case were “vastly different,” and that Jackson was not drivingthe vehicle. He said an unidentified white man in dark clothing wasdriving the truck while Jackson, who is black, was trying to getcontrol.

After about two hours of deliberations late Tuesday, jurors saidthey were deadlocked and would be unable to reach a unanimousverdict. Judge Keith Starrett declared a mistrial.

Jones had no comment on the mistrial, but said the case would bepursued again with a new jury.

“We have not set it yet. We’ll set it up later,” Jones said ofanother trial.

Boutwell said the mistrial indicated that jurors had somequestions about the case.

“In my opinion, it was reasonable doubt among the jury,”Boutwell said.

Lincoln County Deputy Danny “Sambo” Pepper Jr. testified that heand Deputy Matt Springfield had set up a roadblock when aneastbound extended cab truck approached the stop sign at theintersection. The deputy said he only saw one person in the cab,but acknowledged he could not identify the person’s race.

After the truck was signaled to stop, Pepper said it stoppedbriefly but then sped away. The truck then pulled into a nearbyresidence, Pepper pursued and said he saw Jackson get out on thedriver’s side.

“He was holding a can of beer in his hand,” Pepper said.

Pepper said Jackson tried to walk away and protested whendeputies stopped him. Jackson was charged with third offense DUI,disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Jurors were shown a video tape of Pepper and Jackson in thesheriff’s department intoxilizer room. Jackson refused thetest.

“I told you I wasn’t driving that truck,” Jackson said on thetape that was difficult to hear clearly.

Later Tuesday, Jackson took the witness stand to tell hisversion of the events. Jackson acknowledged drinking several beersearlier Oct. 20 while he was planning a barbecue at a neighbor’shome.

Jackson, who lives west of the Brookway Extension intersection,said a man entered his truck after he got out to pick up hisgarbage cans from the roadside. Jackson, who has back problems andwalks with a cane, said he got in his truck and tried several timesunsuccessfully to regain control.

“At first, I didn’t want to mess with him because I didn’t knowwhat he had,” Jackson said, suggesting the truck thief might havebeen armed.

Jackson said the man kept saying he had to get out ofBrookhaven. As the truck headed toward the intersection and theroadblock, which Jackson said he knew was there, Jackson said hewas elbowed in the side of the head several times.

Jackson described the man as having a “big nose” and smelling”pretty rough.” Jackson said he may have seen him sleeping underthe interstate bridge earlier, but he had not seen him again afterthe incident.

After the vehicle went through the intersection and stopped,Jackson said the man got out of the truck and ran away. When Pepperarrived, Jackson told him the man was running away but the deputydid not listen.

“He didn’t want to hear nothing about this man who beat me upand took my truck,” Jackson said, who added that he saw a doctorabout his injuries after he was released from jail a few dayslater.

In closing arguments, Jones pointed out Jackson’s arrest cardshowed no mention of his alleged injuries. The attorney said shebelieved the video tape showed Jackson to be intoxicated at thetime of his arrest.

During his closing remarks, Boutwell said there was some”misinterpretation of the facts” by prosecution witnesses. He saidthere was enough reasonable doubt to find Jackson not guilty.