The trial of a Mount Hope man charged with attempted murder came to an abrupt and unexpected conclusion earlier this month when Fayette County Circuit Judge John Hatcher was compelled to declare a mistrial due to apparently inappropriate testimony by a witness for the prosecution.

Hatcher described himself as “grossly aggravated” as he released jurors and announced he had granted a defense motion for a mistrial while outside the jury’s presence.

He explained that Hewitt M. “Hillbilly” Grasty Jr., 51, will go to trial before a new jury sometime during January’s term. “I apologize to you (the jury) from the bottom of my heart,” Hatcher stated.

Confusion ensued when sheriff’s Detective Lt. J.K. Sizemore relayed his version of events from Oct. 8, 2007, when Grasty and two co-defendants were arrested and charged in connection with the shooting of a 17-year-old boy in Powellton.

Grasty had been read his Miranda rights, said Sizemore, who proceeded to tell the jury how Grasty paused in silence before talking with Sizemore on the morning in question. Grasty’s lawyer, public defender Jim Adkins, instantly came to his feet and objected to Sizemore’s testimony.

It was then that the judge escorted both lawyers and the defendant into the anteroom for a private conference. As Hatcher explained to the jury afterward, no one is allowed to comment on a defendant’s constitutional right to silence.

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Prior to Sizemore’s testimony, jurors heard from eight other witnesses for the state, including one of Grasty’s two co-defendants who asserted in the presence of his own attorney his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Zachariah N. Woodson, 20, of Scarbro, only answered assistant prosecutor Brian Parsons’ inquiry about his name.

Woodson, the alleged gunman in the case, previously pleaded guilty to related charges several weeks ago.

According to prosecutors, Grasty and Woodson were accompanied by Tony J. Walker, 31, of Oak Hill, last Oct. 8 as they made their way to the Powellton Hollow residence of Michael Schoolcraft around 12:30 a.m. As Parsons explained it, Grasty was chagrined over a cocaine purchase that went badly.

As the state’s witnesses recalled, a scuffle commenced between Grasty and Shawn Schoolcraft, who also lived at the residence. Schoolcraft, now 18, said he was “sucker punched” by Grasty before being shot in the left leg by Woodson with a 9 mm semi-automatic rifle.

Amanda Mulligan and Jerry Belcher, who were also at the residence when the shooting took place, corroborated Schoolcraft’s testimony.

Both said Grasty made comments to a man in the back seat of Grasty’s silver Jeep Liberty, later identified as Woodson, to “bring the heat” or “pull the heat.”

Adkins pointed out what he asserted were inconsistencies between Mulligan’s testimony on Wednesday and what she said at a preliminary hearing last year. Belcher conceded racial epithets were hurled by both Shawn Schoolcraft, who is white, and Grasty, who is black.

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