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UPDATE: Mistrial Declared in Putnam DUI-Causing-Death Case

Published: May. 6, 2010 at 1:10 PM EDT
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UPDATE 12/13/10 @ 5:15 p.m.

PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The agonizing wait will continue as a rare mistrial was declared in a DUI-causing-death case.

The person killed was a Putnam County teen, and the man on trial is a tractor-trailer driver.

The prosecutor on the case against Breazeale Norris says he's only seen a mistrial declared during jury selection one other time in nine years.

Police say the Indiana truck driver was driving drunk on Interstate 64 when he crashed into car full of teenagers last year.

Prosecutors say in the judge's chambers -- during individual juror interviews -- frustrated Judge Phillip Stowers declared a mistrial over so far unexplained juror misconduct.

Police say in November 2009, Norris’s big rig hit a car with four teens inside along the interstate near Teays Valley. James "J.R.".Roberts, 18, died after the crash. Three others were hurt and are now ready to testify.

Norris faces DUI causing death and leaving the scene among his 11 felony charges. Prosecutors say the Roberts family, who just placed a Christmas wreath on J.R.'s highway memorial, is a family aching for closure.

This is the fourth major delay in this case. It's tough on the surviving victims, and hard on a defendant who has been behind bars for more than a year.

The judge will pick a new trial date sometime after Jan. 1, depending on the court schedule.

Norris will stay in jail on a $100,000 bond.


UPDATE 9/29/10 @ 3:15 p.m.

PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A truck driver accused of driving drunk and crashing into a car full of teenagers is expected to go on trial before the end of the year.

Investigators say Breazeale Norris hit a car along I-64 in Teays Valley last December.

James Roberts died in the accident, three others were hurt.

Norris has been charged with DUI Causing Death.

During a hearing on Wednesday, the judge set Norris' trial for December 13.


ORIGINAL STORY 5/6/10

PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A truck driver accused of driving drunk and crashing into a car full of teenagers was back in court Thursday.

Police say Breazeale Norris hit a car along Interstate 64 near Teays Valley back in November. James Roberts died in the accident. Three others were hurt.

During the pre-trial hearing, Norris' attorneys asked the judge to delay the trial until they could hire a re-constructionist to verify the original report regarding the speed of the truck and whether Norris was in fact trying to leave the scene of the accident.

The judge granted the motion and moved Norris' trial from June 1 to August 16.

The defense also asked if the judge would allow the jury to visit the scene of the accident during the trial. The judge tabled the issue until June 24 because he had issues with closing down a portion of Interstate 64 during the visit.

The judge asked the defense to come up with a plan on how to keep the jurors safe while they're along Interstate 64. The judge will reconsider the request during that June hearing.

Norris has been indicted on charges of DUI causing death and leaving the scene of an accident.