Jurors stalled in deliberations
By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY ó Jurors in the Robert Douglas Earnhardt murder trial said Thursday they could not reach a decision, and the judge told them to keep trying.
The jury began deliberating Wednesday morning and will continue today as no final verdict has been reached.
Earnhardt is facing first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of his stepfather, Billy Tommy Elmore. Elmore was shot in the back of the head Sept. 17, 2009, at the 165 Leisure Lane home that he shared with his estranged wife, Patty Kesler Earnhardt Elmore.
Billy Elmore had moved out of the home a week before his death.
Just before the noon break Thursday, jurors sent a note to the court saying they could not reach a consensus.
Superior Court Judge Kevin Bridges told them to continue deliberations until they had reached a unanimous decision.
Earnhardt is also charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury for allegedly shooting Tiffany Marie Barbee in the wrist/arm area.
Barbee had driven Billy Elmore to the Leisure Lane home so that he could feed his dog.
Earnhardt, in written statements, said he was defending his mother. Earnhardt said he saw his stepfather draw a gun toward his mother and thatís when he fired. A warning shot Earnhardt said he fired struck Barbee.
During closing arguments, attorney Jay White said the jury should not find Earnhardtís shooting of Elmore to be a case of premeditated murder or of excessive force.
According to White, Earnhardt alleges Barbee stepped into the path of that round.
District Attorney Brandy Cook said in her closing argument that the physical evidence didnítsuport that theory, since investigators found Elmore to have been shot in the back of the head.
Cook questioned why Elmore would not have turned to face Earnhardt when the ěwarning shotî was fired.
In statements to law enforcement, Earnhardt said he saw Elmore with a gun that night.
Cook said Patty Elmore had not testified to seeing a gun when her estranged husband arrived.
Also, before the noon lunch break, jurors asked to go to the Leisure Lane property and Tamarac Marina.
Judge Bridges mulled over what heíd say to jurors once they returned to the courtroom.
Cook said she hoped the judge would deny the request because an on-site visit was not done during the trial. She also said the places have changed from more than two years ago.
White agreed, saying itís been more than two years and it would also be improper for jurors to view the sites.
Jury deliberation continues today at 9:30 a.m.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.