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News / Clark County News

Mistrial declared in Clark County attempted murder case due to COVID-19-related issue

By Jerzy Shedlock, Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published: March 31, 2021, 12:33pm

A mistrial was declared Wednesday morning for a man accused of stabbing his grandfather in April 2018 after jurors expressed concerns about exposure to COVID-19 and asked to be excused.

The Superior Court trial for Zakary A. French, 27, was just getting underway, with jury selection Monday at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.

French allegedly stabbed his then-69-year-old grandfather, Richard LaFountain, in the neck at his home in the Minnehaha area. He was originally jailed on suspicion of first-degree assault, but court records indicate French faces an amended charge of attempted first-degree murder.

On Wednesday, defense attorney Neil Anderson said in an email that a juror disclosed Tuesday her son had tested positive for COVID-19. That juror was excused, leaving 12 jurors and one alternate.

However, the panel was asked if they were comfortable remaining; one person preferred to leave and was excused, Anderson said.

The attorneys planned to consult with Clark County Public Health, and then another juror asked to be excused, Anderson said. That left 11 jurors for the trial, one short of a full panel.

As a result, Judge Gregory Gonzales declared a mistrial.

The trial has been tentatively rescheduled for April 26, Anderson said.

Columbian Breaking News Reporter