MARION COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - An unusual verdict came down Wednesday morning in Marion County in the murder trial of an FBI informant.
Fifteenth District Circuit Judge Prentiss Harrell Damos Daniels announced, "this court will grant the defense motion for directed verdict," effectively bypassing the jury in the murder trial of Damos Daniels and issuing a not guilty verdict without their deliberation. The rarely-used directed verdict also meant the jury was dismissed.
The ruling came after defense attorney Lynn Hightower put forth the motion based on a lack of evidence by the state.
Daniels, and FBI informant, was charged with the 2010 shooting death of 29- year-old Kenroderick Jefferson who was gunned down in front of Jefferson's home in the Lampton Community. Following the shooting, sheriff's deputies searched Jefferson's home and discovered more than forty pounds of marijuana. Daniels turned himself in and was whisked away to an unknown location by federal officials as he awaited trial.
"This was a very unusual case," said District Attorney Hal Kittrell. "It was a bizarre case to begin with all the parties involved and the players involved."
Daniels defense team attempted to prove Daniels had acted in self-defense, and the prosecution repeatedly pointed out that Daniels shot Jefferson, who was unarmed. Things began to unravel in the when witness testimony became inconsistent.
"We also had witnesses that told us one story, and then changed it or it was proven that what they told us was in fact a lie," said Kittrell. "It was a point that we were looking at having to dismiss the case on our own, but the court in fact beat us to it."
Kittrell says the system works when everyone tells the truth, and he believes that's not what happened during this trial. As a case of self-defense became clear, the direct verdict motion was granted and Daniels was effectively found not guilty of murder.
"Obviously he's happy to be vindicated," said Kittrell. "That's our system, and that's the way it works, and he is free to go today."