Jury deadlocks in trial of New Orleans man accused of shooting, running over pregnant woman | Courts

A jury was hopelessly deadlocked late Friday as it weighed whether a man accused of shooting dead a pregnant woman and then running his vehicle over her body while her three-year-old child was strapped in the back seat, committed the crime had committed.

Jermaine Brisco, 29, remains charged with second-degree murder, first-degree fetus, obstruction of justice and cruelty to a juvenile in the killing of 22-year-old, nine-months-pregnant Raven Veal at Sullen Place on November 9, 2016 in Algiers.

The jury ended a four-day trial in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in which prosecutors argued that Brisco, the father of Veal’s unborn child, shot Veal in the neck while they were in their blue Ford Focus. Brisco denies the allegations.

She fled the car, but prosecutors say Brisco forced himself into the driver’s seat and hit the gas, hitting Veal three times.

Veal’s three-year-old daughter was in the back seat when the attacker allegedly ran over her body repeatedly.

Duvuri Devall, an eyewitness accused of being an accomplice in the murder, served as key witness in the Brisco case. According to prosecutors, he helped Brisco clean and dispose of Veal’s vehicle.

In exchange for his testimony, Devall reached a plea deal with the Orleans District Attorney’s Office in 2018 that dropped the most serious charges against him — second-degree murder, fetus and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. Instead, he subsequently pleaded guilty to accessory and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was released after two.

The alleged motive

“How much money is a human life worth?” prosecutor Gregory Thompson asked the jury in his closing argument. “For the vast majority, there is no question: a human life is priceless.”

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But prosecutors argued that Brisco reduced Veal’s life to a dollar amount: After her death, Brisco had been busily pursuing the proceeds of her $400,000 life insurance policy, of which he was the sole beneficiary, prosecutors said.

Speaking to Brisco, Thompson told the jury, “Raven Veal’s life — and the child that was in her womb — was worth $400,000.”

However, prosecutors presented no evidence that Brisco ever received any money from the police.

The defence

Brisco’s attorney, Gregory Carter, pointed out the unreliability of witnesses testifying against his client: Devall, whose account of the assassination had varied over time and who was on the stand this week unable to recall details of the incident; and Veal’s young child, who spoke to a forensic interviewer after the murder and identified Brisco as the attacker, but was unable to select his photo from a series of six images.

Of Devall’s testimony, Carter said, “He literally makes it up as he walks because he knows all he has to do is point the finger.”

The New Orleans police also failed to tie Brisco to the crime with physical evidence, Carter argued. The gun that shot Veal has not been found. And although police searched her vehicle for evidence, police did not find Brisco’s fingerprints in the car, he said.

The jury deliberated for approximately eight hours before announcing that she had been hung.

Brisco is next scheduled for a Dec. 1 pretrial hearing, at which a new trial date is expected to be set.