Wells

Dawon Jacques Wells exits the courtroom at the Aiken County Judicial Center after a mistrial was declared. The jury could not reach an unanimous decision to determine Wells' guilt or innocence. 

After hours of deliberation, a jury was again unable to reach an unanimous verdict Thursday in the second trial of the suspect in a 2016 murder. 

Dawon Jacques Wells, 21, of Aiken was charged with the 2016 murder of Denzel Bates.

Beginning Tuesday, the jury listened to testimony from several witnesses, were presented evidence and heard closing statements from both the prosecution and defense. 

The jury of 12 returned twice to the courtroom Thursday afternoon to report they could not reach an unanimous verdict to determine Wells' guilt or innocence. 

Circuit court judge Courtney Clyburn-Pope declared a mistrial and announced a future court date would be set.  

This is the second time Well's case has reached a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury. 

In February 2019, a jury could not unanimously agree on a verdict.  

Wells faces several charges connected to the Bates' murder investigation including murder, two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime and unlawful carrying of a pistol, according to jail records.

Bates' body was found in the back of a truck that was parked on the side of Rushton Road near Wrights Mill Road on Sept. 21, 2016.

A former deputy told the jury he had responded to a call for suspicious vehicle and found the truck still running with music blaring and the lights turned off. 

The deputy found Bates' body in the bed of the truck appearing to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds. 

A joint investigation soon followed with investigators from the Sheriff's Office, the Aiken Department of Public Safety and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

A six-month investigation led police to name Wells as a suspect; he was arrested in March 2017.

A search of the suspect's home, which occurred after the suspect and his family had moved out, led police to find several bullet shells and a cell phone with a bullet hole through it. 

Police were later able to identify the phone as the victim's through access to the phone's SIM card. 

Witnesses who claimed to be at Well's home the night of the incident testified that the defendant was responsible for the murder. 

Rakish Breon Jenkins, 21, of Aiken, testified that he witnessed Wells shoot Bates outside Wells' home on George Street in Crosland Park.

Jenkins testified Tuesday. He was transported to the courtroom from the Aiken County detention center where he is being held without bond on three counts of attempted murder, carrying weapons on school property, two counts of unlawful carrying of a pistol and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, according to jail records.

His charges stem from a shooting incident that took place outside South Aiken High School in January 2017, where a gun was fired into a crowd and injured three people.

Jenkins testified that he witnessed the suspect shoot the victim several times, load the victim in the victim's truck and drive the truck out to Rushton Road.

In closing statements, the defendant's attorney expressed doubts about Jenkins' credibility and at times, alleged that Jenkins was responsible for Bates' murder. 

A date has not been established for the retrial. A new jury will be selected. 

Matthew Enfinger is the crime and courts reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_enfinger