New jury for Fla. murder trial

Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 4:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 4:20 p.m.

STUART, Fla. - A new jury will be seated in the murder trial of a 21-year-old Okeechobee man accused of fatally punching a teen in a sand-bar brawl.

Judge Larry Schack declared a mistrial in Brian Godwin's case Friday, after the jurors were given a transcript referencing an old marijuana charge against him they weren't supposed to see.

Godwin faces a second-degree murder charge in the death of 19-year-old Brett McCarthy on Hutchinson Island. Prosecutors say McCarthy was dealt a fatal blow as he tried to intervene while Godwin argued with another man who earlier called him "cupcake."

Schack interrupted jurors during Godwin's videotaped statement after the August 2006 fight, informing attorneys that jurors were handed transcripts referencing the old case that had been removed from the video.

He approved a defense motion to declare a mistrial, arguing the jury was prejudiced against Godwin.

James and Lynn McCarthy, the victim's Clinton, N.Y. parents, left the courthouse in tears.

"We're at a loss for words. We don't understand," James McCarthy said. "We miss our son. It's a tragic thing that happened."

At least one juror, Maureen Bardi-Wegner, said she hasn't even looked at the transcript.

"I would like to have heard the rest of the evidence," she said. "I really can't say what I thought based on what I heard."

Schack is moving to another bench in St. Lucie County, so a new judge will hear the case when it returns to court. No date has been set, and Godwin remains held on $2 million bail.

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