Nashville jury unable to reach verdict in security officer trial www.privateofficer.com
The jury could not reach a verdict in the second-degree murder case against former security guard Jeremy Holmes.
Judge Randall Wyatt individually polled the jury on the fifth day of trial after nearly six hours of deliberation. All of the 12 members agreed the jury was definitely divided, and no more discussion could help them reach a consensus on whether the man who shot Adam Villegas committed second-degree murder.
Prosecutor Amy Eisenbeck said they scheduled the case for discussion next month, and they will decide whether the case can be resolved or if it will go to a second trial.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed the jury didn’t reach a verdict,” Eisenbeck said. “Mainly we’re disappointed for the Villegas family, because they don’t have any closure.”
Villegas was fatally shot in the neck in May 2008 in the parking lot of the Marathon Sports Bar. Holmes’ attorney argued that he fired in self-defense because he feared he would be run over by Villegas’ car. Prosecutors said Villegas challenged his authority, and he was several feet away from the car when he fired in anger.
Jeremy Holmes says he drew his semi-automatic weapon on Adam Villegas fearing he was about to be run over by Villegas’ car as he left a South Nashville bar.
Prosecutors say the 6-foot-7-inch Holmes was just angry his authority as a security guard was being questioned when he decided to put a bullet in Villegas’ neck.
A jury deliberated for four hours Thursday on whether the death of 34-year-old Villegas was self-defense or murder. They did not reach verdict and will continue to deliberate today.
Holmes, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the May 2008 shooting death, although the jury could decide to convict Holmes of a lesser charge.
Villegas had been drinking at the Marathon Sports Bar at Nippers Corner, and was sitting in his car talking with a friend when Holmes approached. Holmes was working as a guard for SecurityWise in the parking lot.
Defense attorney Rich McGee painted Holmes as a diligent security guard who first got behind Villegas’ car to prevent him from driving drunk. He said Villegas used his Saturn Ion as “a battering ram,” pushing Holmes out of his way by backing the car up and striking him. Holmes believed he was about to be run over as Villegas finished backing out of his parking spot, according to McGee.
There’s a car turning on him, and you have to react,” McGee said. “He did. But it’s not a crime. It’s a tragedy.”
Prosecutors said there was no proof that Holmes, with a laser-equipped sidearm in his holster, was in fear for his life. Holmes did not testify.
Heated words reported
Witnesses said Holmes told Villegas to leave the parking lot, but got behind his car after heated words were exchanged and Villegas attempted to go.
“He had a person challenging his authority as a security guard,” prosecutor Amy Eisenbeck said. “That made him mad.”
Friends of Holmes and Villegas testified that Villegas put the car in reverse and started to back it up in a “herky-jerky” way, and he struck Holmes. Holmes continued to stand behind the car as Villegas continued to back into him, but Holmes was not hurt and did not fall down. Villegas put the car in drive and started to pull forward.
According to testimony from witnesses at the scene, Holmes had to walk to catch up to the car as it shifted gears and pulled forward. He drew his gun and pointed it, according to testimony, and told Villegas to get out of the car.
“(Expletive) you. Shoot me,” witnesses heard Villegas say.
Holmes fired, and the car rolled forward and struck a pole. On the 911 call, Holmes said a guy who tried to run him over had gotten in a car accident. A witness called in to report shots fired. Eisenbeck wondered during her closing argument if the response would’ve been quicker if emergency responders knew a man had been shot, and then crashed his car.
“When Adam Villegas challenged (Holmes), that’s when he got shot,” she said. “The defendant did not have the right to choose when Adam Villegas died.”
Police said Villegas had a blood alcohol content of 0.24 and cocaine in his system.
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