Mistrial declared in Huntington murder case

September 18, 2018

HUNTINGTON — The case against a Detroit, Michigan, man facing murder charges remains in limbo after a mistrial was declared when a Cabell County jury determined it could not reach a decision Monday.

Brandon Lamar “Louie” McCauley, 26, of Detroit, was charged with murder after 57-year-old Lawrence “Black Pops” Sykes was found shot to death Feb. 4, 2016, at an apartment in the 1300 block of Marcum Terrace. After the shooting, McCauley left Huntington and fled to Detroit, where he was captured a year later.

McCauley’s trial began last Wednesday, with the jury beginning deliberations Friday afternoon. Deliberations ended Friday after jurors told Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred E. Ferguson they could not reach a decision. The group continued to deliberate for about five hours Monday.

Assistant prosecutors Kellie Neal and Ryan Hamady said the shooting was a revenge killing after two individuals robbed two other men, Dewey Michael “Old Man Mike” Woodrum and “Bigs,” of drugs and cash. Defense attorney Courtenay Craig argued the shooting had been done in self-defense after McCauley found himself caught up in a physical fight with his life allegedly threatened.

Although they didn’t disclose which way the jurors had voted the juror foreman said two jurors were not in agreement with the remaining 10. The jury could have picked between charges of first- or second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or not guilty.

At one point Craig said prosecutors had offered a last-minute plea deal Monday to second-degree murder with a cap of 20 years. McCauley rejected the plea and countered with an offer of him pleading to voluntary manslaughter with a cap of 15 years in prison. That counter-offer was rejected by prosecutors.

Sides will return to the courtroom in October to determine if a second trial will occur in the case.

Diane Spears, Sykes’ sister, said Sykes was born into a blue-collar Detroit family as the oldest of five children. He was a father of four and a grandfather of 10. While growing up, he took part in the Detroit public schools’ job corp program, which led him to a promising career working as an assembly line worker at Chrysler at a young age.

He loved football, basketball and loved music, especially jazz, she said, and was a loving person who listened to people’s problems and gave them advice when needed.

Spears said any way the trial ended, two families were affected by the death.

“No matter the path Lawrence chose to take in life, I understand he was not perfect, as no one is perfect,” she said. “But God knew his heart and he was not done with him. The defendant became the judge, jury and executioner on Feb. 4 by taking his life.”

On the day of the deadly shooting, “Bigs” called McCauley to come to Marcum Terrace and take him to pay his phone bill, McCauley testified. When he arrived, the pair traveled to an apartment in the 1300 block of Marcum Terrace, where “Bigs” said he was picking up money.

Inside the apartment were Sykes, Woodrum and a handful of other people. When “Bigs” and McCauley arrived, he immediately started accusing Woodrum and Sykes of perpetrating the robbery and a fight broke out between “Bigs” and Woodrum.

Whether “Bigs” and McCauley broke into the home or were willingly let in is unclear.

A fight also broke out between McCauley and Sykes. McCauley testified Sykes had told him he would kill him if he did not leave and when he saw Sykes reaching for his pocket, where a gun was later located, he fired his weapon out of self-defense.

Other witness testimony said McCauley had been beating up Woodrum with “Bigs” and Sykes was trying to help his friend. Witnesses gave no testimony saying Sykes had threatened to kill McCauley.

He then fled the area and traveled back to Detroit.

McCauley will remained housed at Western Regional Jail for the time being.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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