Judge George R. Greene of Russell County Circuit Court declared a mistrial this morning in the 2007 capital murder case of Lisa L. Graham.
The judge cited his own health issues as grounds for abruptly ending the proceedings on what was to be the third day of testimony.
Graham, 45, had been on trial on charges she instructed a triggerman to fatally shoot her daughter, 20-year-old Shea Graham, who was gunned down and abandoned off a rural road in southern Russell County. Prosecutors say Lisa Graham arranged for Kenneth R. Walton, who did construction for Shea Graham's father, to kill her daughter because she was abusing drugs and had become a burden on the family.
A new trial date was not immediately scheduled.
Longtime District Attorney Ken Davis seemed surprised by the turn of events. "In my tenure, we’ve never had a mistrial declared in a capital murder case that I’m aware of," he said.
The development was bound to impact a District Attorney's Office that has been strapped for cash. Witnesses had been brought in from as far away as Arizona to testify in the trial.
“We’ll retry it," said Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor, who interrogated Lisa Graham and elicited from her what prosecutors have described as a confession. “It’s costing us some money, but we can get (the witnesses) back.”
Defense attorneys declined to comment. Lisa Graham's mother, Cherie Crabb, said she, too, was surprised and disappointed. She has been an outspoken critic of the pace of the proceedings.
“It took five years to get this far and still nothing,” she said outside Greene's courtroom. "Five years is long enough."