Howard Payton trial ends in mistrial

Howard Payton, also known as "Lil Dank."
Howard Payton, also known as "Lil Dank."

POPLARVILLE, MS (WDAM) - Less than an hour into proceedings Judge Prentiss Harrell declared a mistrial for defendant Howard Payton in a Poplarville courtroom.

The jury was brought out and quickly dismissed by Harrell, with his apologies of starting late due to matters from both sides.

Payton, who was representing himself through a hybrid representation with two attorneys as co-counsel raised concerns of requesting an expert witness to test DNA.

"This whole thing is a travesty, a travesty of justice all the way around," said Judge Prentiss Harrell.

According to Harrell, things like this happen when someone who represents themselves in a trial, and understands some, but not all of the law.

Harrell explained that certain things have come up, that according to the state and defense,"would be a reversible error."

Meaning, on an appeal, it could have the chance at being easily overturned.

Payton addressed the judge and court by stating in 2014 he filed a motion for an expert witness, however it was denied.

Payton raised concerns of "his rights being violated or waved if he continued to push for an expert witness on his behalf." 

Harrell said the reason for the denial at the time was due to the evidence that was presented.

The jury returned to the court, with apologies from Harrell, who then declared a mistrial. 

Harrell granted the request for Payton to acquire an expert witness to test a cup in question that is in evidence. 

Harrell again addressed the issue of "what an absolute travesty of a case this is all the way around," to the court. 

Harrell set another date for the trial to start again on May 26, 2015.  

The co-counsel with Payton requested a change of venue for the trial date in May. 

The state requested a written address of the expert and place where Payton would like the evidence sent to be tested. 

To see additional details pertaining to Payton's indictment click here.