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Yarbrough murder trial postponed until 2024

by Bradly Gill | September 19, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.

A trial date has been postponed for a Prescott man charged with murder after his first trial ended in a mistrial.

Tyler Yarbrough,35, is charged with 2nd second-degree murder in the shooting death of Jerrun Lewis, which occurred in Ouachita County.

The new trial was to be held November 14-15, 2023, but Yarbrough's attorney has a civil case in Dallas, Texas on those dates.

Judge Jim Andrews additionally stated that the new jury trial would take place in 2024, but as he did not have a calender of available dates, he could not set a trial date.

Yarbrough's first trial ended in a mistrial in September 2022.

"In opening arguments, I told you here's what the case is going to be. Mr. Yarbrough's attorney told you, 'You're going to hear this. You're going to hear that. My client is going to testify.' That didn't happen," State Deputy Prosecutor Phillip Stone said in his closing statements.

Following Stone's comments, Yarbrough's defense attorney Sylvester Smith III asked to approach the bench and speak with Judge Robin Carroll.

After a brief recess, Judge Carroll declared a mistrial, explaining that Stone's reference to Yarbrough not taking the stand to testify could have potentially influenced the jury.

"Ladies and gentleman, first let me start with an apology, but also an explanation. Under the law, I have no other option other than to grant a mistrial in this case. I apologize that you sat here for a day and a half, but understand that if I don't declare a mistrial, this case would just come back on appeal, if it were appealed. With that I will let you leave," Carroll said.

Part of the instructions the jury received on the first day of the trial said that Yarbrough not testifying was not an admission of guilt or innocence and should not be considered when rendering a verdict.

According to police, Yarbrough admitted on June 2, 2018 to shooting Lewis with a .40 caliber Springfield XD automatic pistol he owned.

A witness told police the shooting started after Yarbrough and Lewis got into an argument when Yarbrough lost a game of dominoes. The witness said he told the two to quit fighting and eventually to leave. From inside his residence, the witness heard two gunshots and went back outside to find Lewis lying on the ground, shot, according to police.

Yarbrough told investigators he had been at the residence since noon that day playing dominoes, drinking and eating, according to a police affidavit. Lewis pulled a knife on him, Yarbrough said, and he ran toward his truck as Lewis chased him.

Yarbrough reported that Lewis grabbed him and they were fighting, at which time he reached into his truck, retrieved his gun and shot Lewis twice, according to the affidavit. He said the gun then jammed. Yarbrough showed investigators two minor injuries on his arms where he said he was cut by Lewis, as well as an abrasion on his forehead, according to records. Yarbrough stated that he was being "manhandled" by the bigger Lewis and had to protect himself, the affidavit says.

After first responders arrived on the scene, Lewis was transported to the Medical Center of South Arkansas in El Dorado where he later died, and "Yarbrough was treated with band-aids and released from the ER," according to the affidavit.

According to court records, a witness told police Yarbrough and Lewis "were going back and forth at each other about the game" and "Yarbrough stated he was going to get his gun and started walking to his truck." The witness said Lewis took off behind Yarbrough as Yarbrough walked to the passenger side of his truck.

The witness said he did not see a knife at that time, according to court records. Once both men were at the side of the truck, the witness stated that he observed them fighting for about 10 seconds, then observed Lewis lying on the ground, records state.

When deputies responded, they located the gun in the driver's side seat of the vehicle, along with two spent shell casings and a knife on the ground at the rear passenger side of the truck.

Print Headline: Yarbrough murder trial postponed until 2024


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