Grand County homicide case trial ends in hung jury
HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS — After nearly a week of court proceedings and more than 14 hours of jury deliberations, the case against a hunter accused of negligent homicide for fatally shooting another member of his hunting party in Grand County ended in a mistrial.
Harry Watkins, 52, was accused of shooting and killing 26-year-old Simon Howell of West Virginia on Nov. 9, 2020, while they were hunting outside Kremmling.
Prosecutors have indicated that charges were brought against Watkins because they believe he behaved recklessly leading up to Howell’s shooting death. Watkins pleaded not guilty in May 2021, setting up the trial.
On Tuesday, Sept. 27, 14th Judicial District Judge Mary Hoak read a note from the jury around 10:35 a.m. saying that jurors were unable to come to a unanimous decision.
Hoak asked the attorneys how they would like to proceed, and Chief Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Dowdell deferred to the court while defense attorney David Jones moved for a mistrial.
Hoak said the court would declare a mistrial and spoke about the case before bringing the jury back into the courtroom.
Addressing the courtroom, Hoak said jury service is hard work, especially in a unique case like this. She said the question in this case was different than one asking if a defendant stole a car because it was more subjective.
After bringing the jury back into the courtroom, Hoak thanked the jurors for their service and told them she sometimes struggles with decisions herself when there is no jury.
She told the jurors they could talk about the case if they want to, but if they speak with either counsel, they need to speak to both sides.
Hoak dismissed the jury for the last time, telling them they are welcome to call her if they want to discuss the case. A status conference is scheduled for Oct. 6 to discuss how to move forward.
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