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Christian County Judge Rules Murder Case A Mistrial Before Opening Arguments

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Posted at 7:29 PM, Jul 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-04 16:46:04-04

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky - For the last year and a half Jessica Tucker, 34, has sat behind bars in the Christian County Jail. She's charged with murder, DUI and assault.

The charges stem from an incident on the Eagle Way Bypass in December, 2013. Tucker was behind the wheel, Brandon Toliver, 28, was riding in the passenger seat. Records show Tucker was driving the wrong way when she hit a vehicle, spun out and hit a second vehicle. Toliver was killed in the accident.

Tucker reportedly told officers she had a few drinks before getting behind the wheel that night.

Common Wealth Attorney Lynn Pryor has been in touch with Brandon Toliver's family ever since and now she's fighting to make sure he gets a fair trial.

"There's a lot of tear shed still," Pryor said. "Just felt like it was only fair to him, to his family to have accurate representation on the jury."

Jury selection for Tuckers trial began Monday but that's as far as it got.

"When someone's life is on the line you want people who are going to pay attention," Defense Attorney Keith Virgin said.

Virgin represents Tucker, who is white, the victim in the case is black. The racial divide became evident as attorneys struck jurors from the pool.

"I realized that they had actually struck every African American juror that we had on the panel of 31 people that had been pulled up to the front," said Pryor

"Some of the jurors that we struck were inattentive. Frankly, some of them were asleep and we struck those. We struck other ones for not making eye contact," explained Virgin.

Virgin maintains their decision was not based on race, but prosecuting attorneys said an all white jury would create prejudice against their case. Ultimately Judge John Atkins agreed and declared a mistrial.

"We believe he did that in error," said Virgin.

Tucker's trial was expected to last a few days. Now a pre-trial conference has been scheduled for early August. Tucker's attorneys want the case dismissed, citing the double jeopardy rule. They are also moving forward with a motion to reduce Tucker's bond.