Murder trial of Drewryville woman ends in mistrial

Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, February 16, 2011


COURTLAND—A Drewryville woman’s murder case ended in a mistrial Wednesday evening when the jury could not reach a verdict.

After four hours of deliberation in Southampton County Circuit Court, the jury told Judge Robert O’Hara it could not reach a unanimous decision in the first-degree murder case against Tiona Tucker. She will get a new trial.

“Active deliberation has reached a standstill,” O’Hara announced to the court after the two-day trial.

Tucker, 29, is charged with the Feb. 14, 2007, shooting death of Tirail Jackson, 21, who was shot in a trailer in the Adam Grove area of Drewryville. Brian Scott, 25, is also charged with first-degree murder and faces a May 24 trial.

The prosecution claims both went to the Hicksford Road trailer where Jackson was staying. During their visit, Scott allegedly got into a “struggle” with Jackson. When Jackson gained the upper hand, Tucker allegedly shot him. Then, Scott is accused of shooting Jackson as well. Both were arrested more than two years after the murder.

“It’s a difficult case, and I’m not surprised the jury had difficulty reaching a unanimous verdict,” said Tucker’s attorney, Barrett Richardson.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke declined comment.

Richardson said he doesn’t expect a new trial before the summer. Until then, Tucker will remain in prison without bond.

Before the jury returned to the court, O’Hara told both Cooke and Richardson the jury’s issue was of the credibility of two key witnesses for the prosecution.

Antonio Hicks and Angela Lucas testified that Tucker had told them on separate occasions that she had shot Jackson. Both Hicks and Lucas are in prison on drug-related charges.

In his closing argument, Richardson called Hicks a “drug-dealing scammer.”

Richardson told the jury Hicks lacked credibility because he stood to gain a reduction of his 12-year sentence if he testified. He also said Hicks told police his conversation with Tucker took place when she was in jail.

Lucas testified that Tucker told her about her participation in the shooting when the two women visited the law library in Western Tidewater Regional jail together on April 20, 2009.

Cooke said Hicks had said he was not sure of the date of his conversation with Tucker. He added Hicks could not have made up his testimony.

Richardson cited the testimony of Officer Sandra Wiggins, who is in charge of the law library in the jail, to discredit Lucas. Wiggins told the court she did not witness any unusual conversation between Lucas and Tucker that day.

Cooke said Lucas did not have a reason to lie because she wasn’t eligible for a sentence reduction.

Tucker did not take the stand in her own defense.