Judge declares mistrial in case of man accused of holding Nacogd - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Judge declares mistrial in case of man accused of holding Nacogdoches couple hostage

O'Brian Duke (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail) O'Brian Duke (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

A Nacogdoches judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a Mount Enterprise man who was accused of tying up a Nacogdoches couple and threatening to kill them back in February.

After deliberating for several hours, the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict in the case. O'Brian Duke's re-trial has been scheduled for Jan. 5.

O'Brian Duke's jury trial is being held in Nacogdoches County's 420th Judicial District Court. He was arrested back in February after he allegedly tied up his friends, Scott and Gwen Hamilton, in their apartment on Pearl Street and threatened to kill them.

O'Brian Duke, 32, was charged with second-degree felony aggravated assault and third-degree felony unlawful restraint. The unlawful restraint charge has since been dropped.

Tuesday morning, Defense attorney Lee Westmoreland called Duke's family members to the stand. While on the stand, Duke's mother Elizabeth Duke told the courtroom that her son had brought Scott and Gwen to her house. She said when they were visiting she noticed something odd.

“All three were high,” Elizabeth Duke said.

On Monday the jury heard testimony from the two alleged victims, who stated that O'Brian Duke was a friend, but he outstayed his welcome.

While on the stand Scott Hamilton said that he and O'Brian Duke met in jail and would hang out from time to time. On the morning of February 9th, 2014, Duke was visiting the Hamiltons, and when they asked him to leave, he turned on them.

“He barricaded the door,” Scott Hamilton said.

Gwen Hamilton later took the stand and told the jury that Duke barricaded the door with their recliner.

“He then told us to sit down,” Gwen Hamilton said.

The couple said that Scott tried to reason with O'Brian Duke, but it made things worse.

“He slapped me,” Scott Hamilton said. “He then tossed a pair of shoe strings and said tie yourself up.”

The couple said they complied with O'Brian Duke's orders because he had a steak knife in his hand.

“Scott tied my hands to his ankles,” Gwen said. “I thought I was going to die.”

The couple were held hostage for hours in their apartment located in the 2100 block of Pearl street. However, after they begged O'Brian Duke, they were set free.

Around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, both side rested their case and spent the next hour discussing the jury charges.

After the jury charges were read, Westmoreland began his closing argument. Westmoreland started off saying that he believed that the alleged victims did not give a clear account of what happened on the day of February 9th.

He also pointed out that the detectives failed to examine key evidence because the knife was not processed for any finger print analysis. In closing, he said that evidence was not there for a conviction.

The state began its closing statements by rebutting Westmoreland's arguments. Assistant District Attorney Cristin Lane stated that the testimony of Scott and Gwen Hamilton might have seemed unclear because it was a traumatic event that happened almost a year ago. Lane went on to say that the evidence does not lie. She said the evidence, in fact, actually backs up the two alleged victims' testimony, despite what Westmoreland said.

If found guilty O'Brian Duke is facing anywhere from 2 years to life in prison.

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