The trial of a D.C. police officer accused of attempting to kill his wife ended in a hung jury and a mistrial Thursday, authorities said.
After deliberating for several hours, a Prince George’s County jury could not reach a verdict in the case of officer Samson Edwards Lawrence III, 46, who faced two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault and two other charges in connection with a November domestic dispute. Police and state prosecutors say Lawrence tried to hit his wife, who has a brain tumor, over the head with a metal light fixture.
The jurors were sent home Thursday evening. But attorneys are expected to reconvene Friday morning for a hearing to determine whether Lawrence violated a stay-away order outlined in his bond after he took his wife to the hospital for a medical issue recently, said John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney.
State prosecutors said Thursday night that they will request a retrial in the case.
“We feel very good about the case we presented,” Erzen said. “Unfortunately, the jury was not able to agree on the counts. We anticipate getting a new trial date set at this hearing Friday.”
The case stems from a dispute that began in the couple’s Accokeek home last year. Lawrence and his wife argued over the location of some household screws, and the disagreement escalated when he demanded that his wife make him lunch, authorities said.
In a “rage,” Lawrence pushed his wife to the ground and hit her in the back of the head with a metal lamp, prosecutors said.
“I’m going to finish you right now,” Lawrence allegedly told his wife during the Nov. 24 incident, according to court papers.
She “had her head busted open,” an injury that required five staples, Assistant State’s Attorney Christina Ropella told the jury.
Lawrence testified on Wednesday, however, that his wife was scratching at his chest during the argument. He said he then pushed her and she fell down, hitting her head on the lamp, which was on the floor.
Leonard Casalino, Lawrence’s attorney, said no evidence or testing showed fingerprints or DNA proving that his client had touched the lamp.
“He didn’t grab it, he didn’t use it, he didn’t do it,” Casalino told the jury.
During the trial, state prosecutors played 911 calls made by the couple’s daughter and neighbor. Based on the calls and the neighbor’s testimony, Lawrence’s wife had run, crying and bleeding,to a nearby house after the argument.
“She fell to the floor,” the neighbor told a 911 operator.
Lawrence is one of a handful of D.C. police officers to face criminal charges in the past year. One officer was accused of operating a prostitution ring and another was charged with producing child pornography. The officer facing child pornography charges was later found dead in the Potomac River.
Casalino said the jury’s inability to reach a verdict showed that state prosecutors presented weak evidence during the case. He questioned whether a retrial was a wise use of resources.
“If they want to take another shot, we’ll defend it as best we can,” Casalino said.