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Jury’s still out on Columbus man’s 2nd murder trial

Jury still out on man’s 2nd murder trial for 2008 fatal shooting

The jury deliberating the fate of Ulysses Wiggins still has not reached a unanimous decision on all charges against him and is schedule to return to court at 9 a.m. today.
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The jury deliberating the fate of Ulysses Wiggins still has not reached a unanimous decision on all charges against him and is schedule to return to court at 9 a.m. today.

Ulysses Wiggins got a second chance that could turn into a third.

Convicted in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison in the 2008 fatal shooting of Catherine Walker, Wiggins got a second trial after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned his conviction, ruling Wiggins had asked to represent himself and the judge in 2010 neglected to hold a hearing on his request.

Though the justices said they found the evidence sufficient to support Wiggins’ conviction and sentence, they sent the case back to Muscogee County for a retrial.

Last week Wiggins went on trial again, with testimony ending Thursday. Now his jury apparently can’t reach a unanimous decision on all the charges against him, raising the possibility his second trial could end in a mistrial.

Last week two witnesses testified they saw Wiggins shoot Walker the night of Dec. 16, 2008, outside a Talbotton Road apartment complex he and girlfriend Valorice Caples were visiting.

Witnesses said Wiggins became enraged when Caples tried to get into another man’s car, and he rushed over and yanked her away. This prompted Caples’ friend Carolyn Senior to get between Wiggins and Caples to break up the fight.

Caples’ teenaged nephew saw this, and spurred a group of teens to go after Wiggins, chasing him four or five blocks to his home at 2316 16th Ave., said prosecutor Katie Hartford. There Wiggins got a gun and chased the teens back toward the apartment, firing four or five shots on the way, the prosecutor said.

When he got to the apartments, he pointed the pistol at Caples and told her, “I told you I was going to kill you,” Hartford said. When Senior again intervened, he pointed the gun at her, too, the assistant district attorney said.

The two women got away, and Wiggins started prowling around the apartments until he saw Walker standing outside and shot her, though she had not been involved in the earlier confrontations, Hartford said.

After attorneys gave their closing arguments Friday, the jury of six men and six women deliberated about 2½ hours. They returned Monday at 9 a.m. and continued their deliberations until 5 p.m., with only a break for lunch.

After a total of about nine hours’ spent discussing the case, jurors still had not reached a unanimous verdict on all the charges against Wiggins. The jury foreman told Judge Frank Jordan Jr. that they had come to a unanimous verdict on three of the counts, but not the others.

Wiggins is charged with malice or intentional murder, felony murder for allegedly killing Walker in the course of committing another felony, two counts of aggravated assault and one of using a firearm to commit a crime.

The jury foreman did not say which counts jurors agreed on, but he disclosed their vote in a private note to the judge. The three counts apparently were guilty verdicts, as Hartford asked Jordan to accept those verdicts and declare a mistrial only on the charges jurors couldn’t agree on.

Defense attorney Nancy Miller asked Jordan to declare a mistrial on all the charges.

Jordan denied Miller’s motion for a mistrial and dismissed jurors at 5 p.m., telling them to return at 9 Tuesday morning.

Should Jordan declare a mistrial, Wiggins could go on trial in Walker’s homicide for a third time.