Mistrial declared in 2015 Savannah State shooting case

Crime & Safety

Christopher Starks (L) Justin Stephens (R)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – After two days of deliberations, the trial of a man accused in the deadly shooting of a Savannah State University (SSU) student has been ruled a mistrial.

Justin Stephens has been on trial this week in connection with a 10 count indictment stemming from the shooting death of Christopher Starks in August 2015. The charges include murder, aggravated assault, and the commission of a felony while in possession of a firearm,

The jury is deadlocked and is unable to come to an agreement on any of the 10 counts.

Closing arguments were made Thursday morning.  Prosecutors said Stephens “turned a fistfight into a fatal shooting,” reminding jurors of the multiple witnesses who testified they saw Stephens shoot Starks in SSU’s Student Union.  

Stephen’s lawyer countered that the state’s case does not meet the burden required for a guilty verdict. The evidence presented was in the form of 11 witnesses who took the stand. The defense attorney told the jury he advised his client not to testify in his own behalf because this case is “a downpour of reasonable doubt.”  

There is no word yet on a new trial.

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