A Miami-Dade judge declared a mistrial in a murder case after the defendant’s brother was arrested for witness tampering — in the courthouse hallway in front of the jury.
An added twist: The brother, Devin J. Williams, 24, was a Florida corrections officer. A judge Wednesday ordered him released from jail on an ankle monitoring bracelet.
His brother, Jerron Williams, is accused in the November 2010 killing of Diane Metelus, 21. She and two children, ages 12 and 3, were shot when gunfire broke out at a block party in Brownsville.
Detectives believe they were innocent bystanders. The children were wounded but survived.
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Witnesses identified Jerron Williams, 33, as one of the shooters. He is charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder. A new trial is set for Dec. 3.
His trial began last month in front of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Lisa Walsh at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, 1351 NW 12th St.
At the time, Miami-Dade detectives had been looking for his brother, Devin Williams, after one eye witnesses said he had shown up to her job at a coin laundry, and made a threatening gesture with his hand.
On the fourth day of trial, another witness complained to officers that Devin Williams had stared him down in the second-floor hallway outside Walsh’s court.
Officer Rachel Meadors — a patrol officer who was testifying in the case — and another officer followed him into the bathroom and handcuffed him.
They led him down the escalator for processing in the jail next door. But as they did, the Williams relatives began hollering as the bailiff was preparing to lead jurors into the court.
“Unfortunately, it was the wrong timing,” Meador told Judge Walsh on Wednesday during a hearing. “I would never do anything to jeopardize a trial.”
Walsh said the Jerron Williams’ jury had been “tainted” by noticing the commotion with the defendant’s relatives, who had been in the courtroom watching the trial. The judge called it the “worst possible confluence of circumstances.”
The department of corrections fired Devin Williams, who guarded inmates at the South Florida Reception Center, shortly after his arrest on Sept. 20.
His lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Amy Weber, told another judge that Williams never threatened witnesses and that the woman was “making it up” to avoid testifying at trial.
This is the third murder mistrial in Miami-Dade in recent weeks.
In one case, a Hialeah man accused of fatally stabbing his wife was granted a mistrial after his defense attorney mockingly posted a photo of the man’s leopard-print underwear on her Facebook page.
In another case, an Orlando man, Joel Lebron — accused of kidnapping, raping and executing a South Miami High teen — was granted a mistrial when a detective accidentally let slip that a co-defendant had been convicted. Another jury has since convicted Lebron.