Lawrence crime, fire, courts coverage
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Oskaloosa A second mistrial was declared Friday in an attempted murder case against a 62-year-old Valley Falls man because jurors said they could not reach a verdict.
John Hayworth Jr. was facing trial in the December 2011 shooting of William Schoonover, 58, also of Valley Falls. The shooting stemmed from a dispute between the two on Schoonover’s property, about 40 miles northwest of Lawrence.
Hayworth first stood trial for the shooting in October of last year, but that proceeding ended in a mistrial when Jefferson County District Judge Gary Nafziger ruled that the jury saw improper evidence. Jurors had watched a DVD containing footage that should have been redacted, Jefferson County Attorney Jason Belveal said.
Much of the three-day trial this week centered on a years-long feud between Schoonover and Hayworth, who owned adjoining cow pastures and had battled over the maintenance of a fence that divided their property. The dispute turned violent during an argument on Schoonover’s rural property on the morning of Dec. 4, 2011. The prosecution and defense each offered different accounts of the confrontation.
Hayworth admitted that he shot Schoonover in the chest with a .357 Magnum handgun, but claimed self-defense, saying Schoonover had attacked him.
Schoonover said he only touched Hayworth in his own defense, pushing him away, but added that he grabbed onto Hayworth after he was shot.
“I know he says he grabbed my shoulder,” Hayworth said Thursday, testifying in Jefferson County District Court. “Well, if he had, I would have shot him again.”
After the shooting, Hayworth called 911 and reported that he shot someone. A former paramedic, he performed first aid on the wounded Schoonover but admitted he was uncooperative with emergency dispatchers. Hayworth was arrested immediately after the shooting.
Prosecutors initially charged Hayworth’s wife, Bernadine Hayworth, with aggravated battery and obstructing the investigation when she was accused of kicking Schoonover in the head after he had been shot. Those charges were later dropped.
Hayworth took the stand Thursday in the trial, after the jury had been provided with Schoonover’s statements. Hayworth said he always carried the pistol with him whenever he was outside his home. He had a concealed-carry permit, which has been suspended while the attempted murder case is pending.
The case was submitted to the jury about 10:30 a.m. Friday, and at 4:30 p.m. the members told the judge that they could not agree on a verdict. The judge declared a hung jury and ruled a mistrial.
Belveal, the County Attorney, said further proceedings may be scheduled next week.