- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - An Omaha double-homicide trial has stalled after the judge said the defendant and two other men attempted to contact a juror.

A 19-year-old jury member in the trial of Marcus Short, 28, asked other jurors Monday if they received a strange Facebook friend request with a photo of the defendant.

Short, Adrian Ixta, and Davaughn Perkins are accused of jury tampering, said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine. Ixta is Short’s current cellmate and Perkins is a friend.

Judge Horacio Wheelock declared a mistrial Tuesday. A police investigation into the jury tampering allegations is ongoing.

“This is really an attack on the criminal justice system,” Kleine said. “It deters from our ability to seek justice from both sides. And we want to hold those people responsible and accountable who did this.”

Short and Preston Pope, 28, each face two counts of first-degree murder in the 2015 deaths of DePrecia Neelon, 23, and Garion Johnson, 19.

The double-homicide case was already pushed back after Omaha police detectives delayed or failed to submit evidence and reports. Some delays were more than two years long. Wheelock put the Omaha Police Department on notice for its handling of the case.

The jury tampering allegations and the detectives’ delays are unrelated.

“The allegations that caused mistrial had nothing to do with the actions of the state, the judge made that very clear on the record,” Kleine said.

Wheelock dismissed jurors Tuesday and rescheduled Short’s trial for January. A new jury will be selected.

The court may consider additional measures to protect jurors, Kleine said.

Pope will go to trial in August.

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