Trial of Helena Man Charged With Deliberate Homicide Ends With Hung Jury
Helena Real Estate Agent James George Stiffler was on trial last week, charged with homicide after he shot Henry Thomas Johnson in his home. Stiffler was accused of deliberate homicide, but his attorneys argued that the shooting was justified because Johnson was found in the home burglarizing the property and posed a threat to Stiffler. In the end, the court was left with a hung jury, with ten jurors moving to acquit and two jurors leaning toward guilty. Defense attorney Quentin Rhoades hinted that he believes another trial is unlikely.
"When you have a ten two decision the prosecutor is going to be very reflective about whether to try that again," says Rhoades. "If it had been the other way or we just had one hold out for not guilty then you can pretty much count on getting a retrial in a homicide case, but in this case the prosecutor did a pretty good job of putting on his best case they just didn't seem to buy it."
Rhoades said the hung jury was frustrating, but gratifying.
"It's frustrating when you have a hung jury when it's ten to two in your favor obviously, but it is much more gratifying than the other way around two to ten," says Rhoades. "If you know you're going to get a retrial then of course we don't want to see a conviction. So there are a variety of things that might have happened differently that would make it much much less optimistic."
Stiffler also appeared gratified by the results, after the 10 to 2 jury was announced, courtroom photos show him grinning from ear to ear.