JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A judge on Wednesday declared a mistrial in the case of a woman charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a 16-year-old outside a Wawa gas station in Jacksonville.
The jury began its deliberations in the trial of Shaetavia Cooper, charged in the death of Teneria McClendon, just before 4 p.m.. And after 6:30 p.m., the jury sent a message to the judge saying that not everyone was on the same page for a verdict. The judge said they should return to deliberations, and told them the court was ordering them food.
Just before 8:30 p.m., the judge received another message from the jury, reading: “We the jury do not agree on a verdict,” leading her to declare a mistrial. A pretrial conference was scheduled for Feb. 15, where the court will discuss resetting the matter for trial.
“To me, it’s bogus. This family has suffered for too long and they got us here all night and the jury can’t come to a decision,” said Junior Cummings, a relative of McLendon. “Now we got to come back and do this all over again, and it’s not fair to us. They proved their point. They got everything out in the open. So, there is nothing left. That mother over there has been really hurting and they don’t know what we have been through as a family.”
After the state rested Wednesday, Cooper’s attorneys first moved for a direct acquittal, which was denied, and then called Cooper as their lone witness.
Video from the shooting in July 2020 shown in court Tuesday, revealed what happened outside the Wawa gas station on Wilson Boulevard near Lane Avenue South.
The video showed Cooper with a gun and 16-year-old McClendon falling to the ground.
In court on Tuesday, both the state and the defense said the video clearly shows what happened.
In the video, Cooper walks toward McClendon and the other girls she was with -- then Cooper backs away, points the gun at McClendon and fires.
During her testimony Wednesday, Cooper told the jury she was afraid and acted in self-defense when McClendon and the other girls approached her in the parking lot.
Defense attorney: “Do you regret what happened?
Cooper: “Yes sir.”
Defense attorney: “Were you in fear for your life?”
Cooper: “Yes sir.”
The defense says her regret doesn’t make her actions illegal, while the state says her actions were not reasonable.
Prosecutor: “You don’t spit on someone before shooting them if you really think you’re in danger.”
The defense says McClendon was the aggressor in this case. Multiple witnesses testified that McClendon’s mother held McClendon back and that she spit at Cooper inside the Wawa.
The defense says it was six against two.
After she shot McClendon, Cooper said she tried to apologize and hug McClendon’s mother.
Prosecutor: “You tried to give her a hug after shooting her but you were afraid of her?”
None of the witnesses said McClendon threated Cooper.
Cooper says McClendon threated to spit on her – then she did – but doesn’t remember if it connected with her.
She also said she didn’t remember telling McClendon, “Hold on (explicit), I got something for you.”
The jury will consider if Cooper had ill will.
Defense attorney: “It was shown when she checked on Teneria McClendon, when she said ‘please don’t let this child die,’ does that sound like someone with evil intent? She called 911.”
The state says it believes Cooper was angry when she did it and says that Cooper spitting on McClendon before shooting and killing her shows her intent.
Cooper says after shooting McClendon she put her gun down, sat in her car for a second, called police, then tried to give McClendon's mother a hug and apologize. @wjxt4— Marilyn Parker (@MarilynParkerTV) January 25, 2023
The state said Tuesday that the video shows Cooper took it too far. The defense said Cooper acted in self-defense and they asked the jury to pay close attention.
“I was standing there with my arms out saying these are teenagers, then she spit and she shot her like she was nothing,” Teneria McClendon’s mother, Sharonica Eady, said.
McClendon’s mother took several pauses on the stand on Tuesday.
The state said Cooper used unreasonable force in shooting McClendon.
McClendon was with her mother and five other teenage girls. Some of the girls took the stand Tuesday.
We heard the police body camera from the officer who detained Cooper shortly after the shooting. Cooper is heard saying "please don't let the child die", " I could've walked away from the situation," and " they spit at me." @wjxt4— Marilyn Parker (@MarilynParkerTV) January 24, 2023
The state’s witnesses said they couldn’t recall what the argument was about.
The defense referred to prior testimony, saying McClendon’s cousin Nyindia Lane testified that McClendon said to her “you know they are laughing at us,” referring to Cooper. Lane said she didn’t remember McClendon saying that. The defense said McClendon’s mother testified that “that was the first time I have ever seen my child be that upset.”
The state called another friend of McClendon’s who said McClendon spit at Cooper, but it didn’t land on her.
The defense attorneys built some of their questions around McClendon being angry and her mother having to hold her back trying to diffuse the situation.
They said according to the video, instead of the group of girls leaving to go to their car on the right side of the store, they went to the left, following Cooper.
The state also called a witness who said he rendered aid to McClendon after she was shot.
He said Cooper looked like she was in shock and said, “I can’t believe I shot her.”
The defense isn't calling any more witnesses. Cooper ended her testimony, crying on the stand saying she was in fear for her life. The court is starting its charge conference for jury instruction. Following this, the state will give closing arguments. @wjxt4— Marilyn Parker (@MarilynParkerTV) January 25, 2023
The defense filed a Stand Your Ground petition last year that was denied.