Murder trial against former sheriff's deputy ends without verdict

FULL STORY: A Bastrop County judge has declared a mistrial in the murder case against a former sheriff's deputy. Daniel Willis faced up to 99 years in prison if convicted.

At noon Friday, Judge Albert McCaig asked jurors one-by-one if they had reached a decision about former Bastrop County Sheriff's Office Deputy Daniel Willis's guilt or innocence.

Eight felt Willis was guilty of the murder of Yvette Smith. Four felt he was innocent. None would waiver. The judge released the jurors thereby declaring a mistrial.

Lillie Piper, who is a friend of Smith's, left the courthouse in tears, "It was cold-blooded murder, you know, who can't see that?"

Prosecutor Forrest Sanderson says he will not reduce the charge of murder and will take the case to trial again.

"There is no question this defendant shot and killed another human being intentionally and knowingly and by Texas law that is murder unless there is justification for it. That's what this case was about that there was no justification for this murder," said Sanderson.

For two weeks jurors listened to testimony about what happened on February 16th of last year.

Willis responded to a home after a woman inside called to report two people struggling over a gun and loading it. It was the second time Willis had been dispatched to the residence within six hours.

Caller Amy Vela: "He loaded the gun. He loaded the gun. He loaded the gun."
Dispatcher: "He loaded the gun. Okay."

Witnesses say Smith, who was unarmed, opened the door of the home and was fatally shot.

"Daniel Willis's conduct was reasonable," said defense attorney Robert McCabe.

Defense Attorney Robert McCabe says if the case is tried in court again he has numerous experts lined up to testify and will be ready to fight. But that fight he says is unnecessary.

"They've had their shot, they didn't make it. We should be done with this case. This case does not belong in a criminal court," said McCabe.

Prosecutor Forrest Sanderson says he expects to re-try the case after the first of the year.



A judge has announced that jurors were unable to reach a verdict in the trial of former deputy Daniel Willis.

The case stems from a domestic disturbance call that Willis was sent to in the early morning hours of February 16, 2014.

FOX 7's Noelle Newton is in the courtroom and will have more on the story coming up at 5.