Court rules mistrial in murder case


Advanced publicity on a murder trial scheduled to start here Monday was sufficient enough to cause a mistrial in the eyes of the district judge.
Ronnie Joe Hendrick, 41, was facing a murder charge accused of killing his girlfriend Pamela Shelly in 2001 at his residence near Westhoff. Originally, Hendrick had told law enforcement that Shelly committed suicide.
A television series “Cold Justice” assisted DeWitt County Sheriff’s Department in re-opening the case in 2012 which lead to a grand jury murder indictment against Hendrick.
The program aired on TNT cable network last week.
During jury selection Monday morning, Judge Skipper Koeter ruled a mistrial because the low number of eligible jurors available for the trial.
Out of a juror pool of about 75 people, 10 had been granted exemptions, and 23 said they had either seen the “Cold Justice” show or discussed it with someone.
With only about 40 potential jurors remaining, the attorneys and judge agreed there were not enough to move forward with the trial.
The case has been reset for June 16, 2014 and will be in DeWitt County.
Before the jury selection began Monday, Hendrick’s attorney had already asked for a change of venue to move the trial out of DeWitt County due to pre-trial publicity.
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