Hilton Head murder trial to start again after mistrial

astice@islandpacket.comFebruary 24, 2013 

After months of delay, prosecutors say the murder trial of a Hilton Head Island man is back on schedule.

A jury will be selected today in the trial of Jerry Lamont Scantling, accused of fatally shooting a 52-year-old man during a robbery attempt at C.C. Haigh Jr. Landing on Pinckney Island in May 2010.

The 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office is seeking a life sentence for Scantling for the death of Leonard Green.

Deputy Solicitor Sean Thornton attempted to try the case in October, but a juror and an alternate juror backed out, leaving prosecutors shorthanded.

The juror was excused by Judge John Hayes after she said her religious beliefs prevented her from convicting someone of murder.

Then, a day into the proceedings, the alternate juror remembered he had worked with Green at Hilton Head Hospital. Until then, he hadn't realized it because identifying photographs of Green had not yet been shown to the jury, Thornton has said.

After questioning the juror, Hayes declared a mistrial.

That means the trial starts from the beginning today before Judge Carmen Mullen, with the selection of a new jury and more than 70 witnesses expected to testify. Thornton will again prosecute the case.

Relatives of Green were disappointed when the trial was called off the first time. According to his niece, Connie Gadson, they had hoped for closure after years of waiting.

A year passed between the discovery of Green's body -- concealed beneath palm fronds at the boat landing -- and when the Sheriff's Office said it had identified his killer.

Scantling had been arrested on unrelated charges within days of Green's death and was identified as the only "person of interest" in the crime. He remained in the Beaufort County Detention Center for 13 months before investigators said DNA tests from multiple crime scenes, processed at S.C. State Law Enforcement Division labs, linked him to the shooting.

In addition to the murder charge, Scantling faces a count of armed robbery and a count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

Green had worked in the materials-management department at Hilton Head Hospital for about six years and had taken another job at Pizza Hut on the island's north end about a week before his death. He had moved in with his mother to care for her after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, relatives said.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/IPBG_Allison.

Related content:

Judge declares mistrial in case of murdered Hilton Head man, Oct. 25, 2012

Prime suspect in year-old murder charged with shooting death, June 11, 2011

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