Defense attorneys: Judge should declare mistrial - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Defense attorneys: Judge should declare mistrial

Clinton Lewis, left, and Martin Lewis, photo courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Office. Clinton Lewis, left, and Martin Lewis, photo courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

(WMC-TV) – Defense attorneys for two cousins accused of being professional killers say prosecutors made a mistake that was so big, they should be forced to start the trial over.

For the second day in row, the judge sent the jury home without any testimony as he considers a motion for a mistrial.

The defense claims the government messed up and that the only fair thing to do is start all over again.

The government says Craig Petties ran an international drug ring and Martin and Clinton Lewis were hit men for the organization.

The cousins have been on trial in federal court for six weeks, but the case has screeched to a grinding halt.

"We have filed several motions requesting a mistrial in this matter," said defense attorney Marty McAfee.

The motion outlines testimony from two key government witnesses regarding the recovery of the murder weapon.

The government claims a third witness, who was not called to testify, originally told them Clinton Lewis had given him the gun.

However, after the two witnesses testified, prosecutors told defense attorneys the third uncalled witness had recanted his original statement before the trial began.

Defense attorneys claim they did not have the right information to ask the right questions.

"To hold back information that we need to question, that deprives the jury of the chance to really know what the truth is," said McAfee.

"It doesn't matter if it's inadvertent, or willful or intentional," said Anne Tipton, another defense attorney involved in the case "The law is that it should've been disclosed and it was not."

Without the jury present, that uncalled witness told the court Clinton Lewis did not give him the gun. Instead, he said he got it from two other men who testified previously.

"We're not asking for a dismissal. We're asking for a mistrial," said defense attorney Howard Manis. "And there's an important distinction between the two. We want our day in court. We want to have a trial and that's why we've been here for the month-and-a-half, but we want to be fair and, quite frankly, that's just not been the case."

The judge instructed the jury to return by 9:30 Wednesday morning.

Defense attorneys expect him to rule on their motion for a mistrial sometime Tuesday evening.

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