Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

3rd Jury Deadlocks in Roommate Murder Trial; Navy Veteran Is Accused of Strangling Man; Fourth Trial Unlikely

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

3rd Jury Deadlocks in Roommate Murder Trial; Navy Veteran Is Accused of Strangling Man; Fourth Trial Unlikely

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

A third Jacksonville jury has deadlocked over whether a Navy veteran and CSX employee killed his roommate.

After two days of deliberations Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace declared a mistrial Tuesday night in the first-degree murder trial of Steven Paul McKenney, 48, who is accused of killing 47-year-old Terry Edward Blount.

Prosecutors said McKenney committed the crime after he descended into drug addiction, while attorneys for McKenney argued Blount, a crack cocaine addict, was killed by a drug dealer.

Previous juries deadlocked over McKenney's guilt or innocence in April 2015 and May 2016. A hearing in the case has been set for Thursday.

The office of State Attorney Angela Corey will seek to try McKenney again, said spokeswoman Jackelyn Barnard.

"Three separate jury panels heard and saw the evidence in this case," Barnard said. "There are jurors who had no question that the Defendant was guilty of the crime."

But a fourth trial is unlikely to occur before January, when Corey is replaced by State Attorney-elect Melissa Nelson, who defeated Corey in the Aug. 30 election.

Nelson has previously said she would not be commenting on any pending cases until she takes office. But the new state attorney could choose to drop the case or seek a plea deal with McKenney on a lesser charge.

Blount was planning to move out of the Malabar Motel on New Kings Road the day after his death and live in a trailer on property his cousin owned in an attempt to get clean. The cousin found Blount's body the next day when he arrived to help him move.

Assistant State Attorney Alan Mizrahi told jurors that McKenney was the only one who could have logically committed the crime. Blount dug his fingernails into the flesh of his killer, and that DNA implicates McKenney.

"Terry Blount was brutally, savagely strangled to death," Mizrahi said, while stressing that no one else's DNA was on Blount. …

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