WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of Javan Ervin. Police allege that Ervin was a robbery suspect who was fleeing from police when he hit pregnant Samantha Russell’s car and killed her. Russell’s son was delivered and survived the crash.
Ervin’s trial started Tuesday but was put on hold at the end of the day’s testimony due to a juror telling Judge Tyler Roush that another juror allegedly made comments about media coverage in the jury room.
On Wednesday morning, the judge interviewed each member of the jury. He spoke highly of the jury members, except for the one who allegedly made comments about media coverage.
“I appreciate their adherence to their oath, and I appreciate their diligence in taking this matter seriously,” Roush said. “Everybody except for (juror’s name deleted) understood the seriousness of this case, the time and effort it took to put this case together, and the importance of following the court’s instructions to not discuss the case.”
The judge then announced that he did not think it would be possible for the trial to continue.
“The information that was disclosed by this juror to the rest of the group is insurmountably prejudicial,” Roush said. “There is no way to unring that bell.”
Roush said the juror mentioned media coverage of robberies. The judge said there is a court order that prevents all the parties from even discussing the term robbery.
“There is no way that this trial can continue with that information out there,” the judge said.
“If any of us were sitting in Mr. Ervin’s chair and this trial were allowed to proceed with this jury panel with that information, it would have a very negative stain on, if not the actual administration of justice, the appearance of the administration of justice and the ability for Mr. Ervin to get a fair trial,” Roush said. “I therefore have no other choice but to declare a mistrial on this matter as frustrating as that is for all the people involved.”
The judge asked Ervin if he wanted the mistrial to be declared.
“Yes, sir,” Ervin said.
A new trial is tentatively scheduled for June 5.
As for the juror who allegedly spoke about the media coverage, Roush found that juror in contempt of court.
The trial stems from a fatal crash on July 6, 2021. Officers were near Maple and Ridge trying to arrest some robbery suspects. They said one of the suspects fled in a pickup. Police started to chase the suspect, but said they quickly called it off.
Investigators said the pickup sped north, ran a red light, and caused a multi-car crash at Central and Ridge Road.
The crash killed Russell, 22. She had been waiting to turn from southbound Ridge Road to eastbound Central. First responders were able to save the infant.
Officials charged Ervin two days after the crash.