Mistrial declared in woman's murder trial for deadly fire
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Eight years ago, two children died in a house fire and now a jury can't decide whether their deaths were an accident or murder. We were the only television station there when the mistrial was declared.
There were tears throughout the courtroom, including the jury foreman. He told us off-camera the jury was deadlocked. There were seven who voted guilty and five who voted not guilty, and a unanimous decision just wasn't in reach.
For the Farley family, the jury's deadlock is not the expected outcome.
"It's very disappointing," said Raymond Farley Sr.
He is the father of Raymond Farley Jr., who died in 2003. He was 16 years old and, according to family, spending the night at the home of Sharon and David Watkins. David Watkins was Farley's music teacher. The pair were to travel to a musical event the next day.
Farley Sr., who is a minister, says his family has waited eight years for justice and are prepared to wait longer.
"God, He knows and He is the righteous judge and He said all vengeance is mine so she will get her just due, if not here in the judicial system, in eternity," Farley Sr. said.
Farley Jr. died in this home on Trail Valley Way in northwest Houston. A fire started in the house in May of 2003 killed Farley and the Watkins' eight-year-old daughter Shanda.
Sharon Watkins was on trial for felony murder. Prosecutors accused her of intentionally setting the fire.
"It was difficult," one juror said.
"Do you feel justice was served?" we asked him.
"No comment," the juror replied.
Jurors hurried past us, not willing to talk on camera about their decision to deadlock.
"There were questions about what went on in the house, who actually set the fire," prosecutor Colleen Barnett said.
"If there was no arson in this case then there was no murder in this case," defense attorney Todd Dupont said.
It's an opinion that's hard to accept for a big sister who still feels protective of her little brother.
"Whether it was set intentionally or whether it was just haphazard of happened naturally, he just didn't deserve to die, neither did their child," said Farley Jr.'s sister, Lucille Farley.
Sharon Watkins remains in custody and is due back in court on Monday. She still has two outstanding robbery charges. The state will decide whether to dismiss or retry this case.
Her husband David Watkins is also charged with felony. His trial has not been set. He is out on bond.
local, cynthia cisneros
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