Judge declares mistrial in Guthrie County murder case
LEON, Iowa (AP) — A judge has declared a mistrial in a murder trial after a person began discussing the case with jurors.
Judge Brad McCall declared the mistrial Monday in the trial of 27-year-old Patrick Ryan Thompson, of Ames. He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson after a May 15, 2017, fire in Guthrie County killed 16-year-old Shakiah Cockerham and 12-year-old Melanie “Paige” Exline. The fire injured their uncle, William Long III, and grandmother, Shirley Exline.
The judge took the action after someone started loudly discussing the case with prospective jurors while the judge and lawyers were outside the courtroom.
Thompson’s lawyers requested the mistrial, and prosecutors didn’t object.
The trial had been moved to Decatur County because of pretrial publicity.