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Retrial date set in Gordon murder trial

Thursday, October 7, 2010

When Richard Gordon is re-tried for a 2009 Viola shooting death, his lead defense attorney will get his wish for a change of venue.

Gordon's trial the week of Sept. 21 resulted in a mistrial when one of 12 jurors would not agree that Gordon was guilty of first degree murder.

Little Rock based defense attorney Jeff Rosenzweig had sought to move the first trial out of Fulton County, claiming it would be difficult to find an impartial local jury.

According to Fulton County Clerk Vickie Bishop, Judge Tim Weaver has decided to move the re-trial to Stone County, the week of March 22, 2011.

"When we were awaiting a jury decision, the Judge indicated that, if the jury deadlocked, he was going to grant my motion for a change of venue," said Rosenzweig, during a telephone interview. "I think, after the difficulties we had getting a jury (in Fulton County), it will be productive to move the trial elsewhere."

According to Rosenzweig, he does not expect a plea agreement to be reached before the new trial.

"The positions of the two sides are too far apart," said Rosenzweig. "I don't think we can reach a middle ground."

As with the first trial, jury selection will begin on a Tuesday, allowing two days for evidence to be presented and a final day for closing arguments and jury deliberations.

Richard Gordon, 62, is charged with shooting his neighbor, 31-year-old Joseph Clifton, at the site of a gate Clifton had installed across the road leading to his home in rural Viola. Gordon and other neighbors were unhappy about the gate, claiming Clifton had blocked a public roadway.

During the September trial, prosecutors claimed Gordon ambushed Clifton, shooting him three times without provocation.

Gordon, who took the witness stand, testified that he opened fire in self defense when Gordon grabbed a rifle in his vehicle during a confrontation with Gordon.

Jurors deliberated for eight and a half hours on Friday, Sept. 24, before telling Judge Weaver they were hopelessly deadlocked.

After the mistrial was declared, one juror told Clifton's family that, after going through evidence, 11 jurors agreed Gordon was guilty of first degree murder but one juror insisted on a manslaughter conviction.

Richard Gordon was returned to the Izard County Detention Center following the mistrial. He has been housed at the facility since his Sept. 3, 2009 arrest.

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don't carry a gun with you even though it is your right to do so. someone might just shoot you and claim self defense and get away with murder. it is sad that only the guys son knows what happened and no one will hear his story.

-- Posted by sentinel on Sun, Oct 31, 2010, at 8:50 AM

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