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Saturday, August 19, 2017 1:00 am

Murder trial nets guilty verdict

Prosecutors' 2nd try works after hung jury

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

Prosecutors won a guilty verdict Friday in their second attempt to convict a man in a 2016 shooting death. 

A jury found Christopher Figgs, 29, guilty of murder, carrying a handgun without a license with a prior offense and using a handgun in the commission of a crime in the death of Edword Kiel, 28.

Figgs could get 65 years in prison when he's sentenced Sept. 22. 

In February, jurors couldn't reach a unanimous verdict after the first trial.

His second trial began Tuesday, with testimony ending Thursday. The jury of five men and seven women reached a verdict after deliberating about 41/2 hours.

Figgs was accused of fatally shooting Kiel while Kiel was sitting in a car on McKinnie Avenue on July 6, 2016. Defense lawyers said prosecutors couldn't put Figgs at the scene of the crime, arguing there was no gun, fingerprints or DNA.

The prosecution's first witness, Thomasa Hunter, testified she was Figgs' ex-girlfriend and was sitting in the car with Kiel when he was shot to death about 1:30 a.m. But she testified she did not see the shooter and she had not identified Figgs. 

She also told the jury “I don't want to be here” and that police are still treating her like a suspect in the case. However, Crystal Laster, Kiel's sister, testified that Hunter called her on a cellphone after the shooting and told her Figgs was the shooter.

Laster disclosed that information to Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Jesus “Rick” Trevino in the hallway just outside the courtroom before she was to testify. That disclosure prompted defense lawyer Michelle Kraus to request a mistrial, which was denied by Superior Court Judge Fran Gull.

Under cross-examination, Laster said she hadn't said anything about Hunter's statement before.

Called back to the stand, Hunter said she did not recall telling Laster in a phone call after the shooting that Figgs shot and killed Kiel. Phone records showed a call to Laster was made from Hunter's phone.

A forensic pathologist told the jury Kiel was shot twice in the chest and once in the arm.

Figgs did not testify in his defense.