Crime & Courts

Judge orders mistrial in Charlotte murder case after juror goes into labor

A judge declared a mistrial in a Charlotte murder case Thursday after a juror “went into premature labor,” according to a Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office news release.

The juror went into labor before deliberations were to resume Thursday morning, prosecutors said in the release.

Deliberations began Wednesday in the first-degree murder trial of 32-year-old Lionel Octavius Price.

Lionel Octavius Price.jpg
Lionel Octavius Price Mecklenburg County jail

Price, 32, was charged in the 2016 killing of 40-year-old Fredrick Antwone Butler.

Butler was shot multiple times in a house on Helms Road, off Tom Sadler Road and near Mount Holly Road in northwest Charlotte, the Observer reported at the time.

The trial began Jan. 7 before Superior Court Judge Gregory Hayes, according to the D.A.’s release. Price also was charged with first-degree burglary in the case.

Hayes declared a mistrial because state law bars judges from replacing a juror with an alternate juror after deliberations have begun, prosecutors said in the release. Hayes declined comment when reached by the Observer.

The case “remains pending,” according to the D.A.’s release.

“The District Attorney’s Office wishes the juror and her family well,” according to the news release.

The Observer’s Michael Gordon contributed.

Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.