- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

BASTROP, Texas (AP) - A judge declared a mistrial in the case of a former Central Texas sheriff’s deputy charged in the fatal shooting of a woman on her porch last year, but prosecutors said they plan on retrying the case.

Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the murder trial of Daniel Willis, who was indicted in the death of 47-year-old Yvette Smith. The jury deliberated for nearly 20 hours over three days but told the judge Friday that they were deadlocked, with eight in favor of convicting and four against it. When polled, the jurors told the judge that they couldn’t be swayed in their decision.

The case involves a February 2014 call about a fight at a house in rural Bastrop County. It was the third time in 24 hours that Willis was called to the home, and he had received reports that the situation was extremely dangerous, according to his lawyer, Robert McCabe.

Just after Smith opened the door, Willis yelled “police” and then fired two shots from his rifle one second later, according to testimony.

“He had plenty of time to assess that situation. He did not have to shoot one second later if he actually did think he was seeing a gun,” Special Prosecutor Forrest Sanderson said during the trial.

According to testimony, Smith was unarmed and had no object in her hands. But the defense argued that Willis believed Smith was holding an object and that his actions were therefore justified because of the perceived danger. Just prior to the shooting, a dispatcher told Willis that someone inside had a loaded gun.

Sanderson said he plans to retry the murder case and that prosecutors will not accept lesser charges. But McCabe said Willis shouldn’t be tried again, citing the split among jurors.

“We should be done with this case,” he said. “We should move on.”

After the shooting, Willis was put on administrative leave and eventually fired by the Bastrop County sheriff’s office. The county has settled a lawsuit brought by Smith’s family for $1.22 million.

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