A mistrial was declared in a murder case Thursday after a prosecution witness violated a court order.
District Judge David Barker excused the jury in the case against Keith Currie, 21, and said the selection of a new panel will begin Monday.
The mistrial occurred after prosecutors called their first witness, Gregory Isaacs of Kentucky.
Moments earlier, Barker had ruled that Isaacs could not tell the jury he saw Currie smoking marijuana before the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Andrew “Kyle” Taylor in October 2006. Isaacs, Taylor’s best friend, never previously told authorities about the defendant’s marijuana use.
On the witness stand Thursday, Isaacs said he and Taylor had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana prior to the shooting. He also said he saw Currie sitting in his car, “rolling up a blunt.” A “blunt” is a slang term for a cigar stuffed with marijuana.
Isaacs’ comment drew an immediate objection from defense attorneys and prompted Barker to send jurors and the witness out of the courtroom.
Barker held a bench conference with the lawyers before announcing that Currie’s attorneys had requested a mistrial.
“Five minutes ago — five minutes ago — we had this conversation,” a frustrated Barker told the prosecutors.
Deputy District Attorney Brett Keeler said he thought the judge could cure the problem with a cautionary jury instruction about the witness’ use of the word “blunt.”
“Some people on the jury may not even know what that is,” the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Dayvid Figler then argued that evidence about Currie being under the influence of marijuana at the time of the shooting “can’t be unrung to the jury.”
Authorities have said Currie, a paraplegic, had a dispute with Isaacs and Taylor before following them in his vehicle and shooting Taylor outside the Mira Vista community near Durango Drive and Cheyenne Avenue.
Defense attorneys contend that Currie fired his gun in self-defense after being bullied.
Currie, who is on house arrest, sat in a wheelchair Thursday as he watched the court proceedings from the defense table.
After declaring the mistrial Thursday, Barker put Isaacs back on the witness stand and asked him whether prosecutors had instructed him not to testify about Currie’s use of marijuana.
Isaacs, frequently emotional on the stand, initially denied that prosecutors had given him such an instruction. He then said he was unsure.
Barker told the witness to stay in the area until the trial resumes next week.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135.