Mistrial declared in Bryan murder case

A new jury panel will have to hear Damien Bryan’s murder case, after Cole County Presiding Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce declared a mistrial this afternoon.

A jury had heard about 90-minutes of evidence when a Highway Patrol officer testified that Bryan had two previous driving while intoxicated convictions — a fact that is not supposed to be part of the evidence in a trial.

A Cole County grand jury last October indicted Bryan, 41, Jefferson City, on two counts of second-degree felony murder, for the deaths of two other drivers in an Aug. 31, 2011, accident on Route C at the South Country Club Spur.

Bryan was charged with killing Donald A. Edwards, 58, Russellville, and Joan D. Hamilton, 75, Lenexa, Kan.

The original patrol report said Bryan failed to yield to Hamilton’s eastbound 2004 Lexus as he tried to cross Route C in his 1981 Ford F-150 truck.

Bryan’s truck hit the passenger side of the Lexus, causing it to overturn into the path of Edwards’ westbound 1995 Chevy Blazer.

Edwards was pronounced dead at the scene, about 10 minutes after the accident happened.

Hamilton was taken to Capital Region Medical Center, but pronounced dead about 55 minutes after the accident.

The grand jury also charged Bryan with one count of DWI, as an “aggravated offender” because of two prior convictions in the 1990s.

But the prior convictions is information a judge can use in sentencing, only if there’s a conviction.

Jurors can not know that information unless a defendant testifies in a case, which had not occurred when the mistrial was declared.

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