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Mistrial declared in Hendersonville dad's reckless homicide charge

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Timothy Batts smiles after hearing the jury deadlocked. JOSH CROSS

Following six hours of deliberations jurors deciding Timothy Batts' fate returned to court on Thursday deadlocked on the most serious count of reckless homicide.

Batts, 30, and his more than a dozen supporters showed measured relief as Judge Dee David Gay read the verdicts.

The Hendersonville father faced multiple charges in the Aug. 8, 2016 fatal shooting of 11-year-old Timea Batts.

While the jury found Batts guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, it also returned a not-guilty verdict of tampering with evidence. Batts was acquitted earlier in the week on a charge of false reporting.

Before declaring a mistrial, Criminal Court Judge Dee David Gay asked jurors if further deliberation on the reckless homicide charge would be productive.

The five men and seven women were deadlocked, the jury foreman replied.

Batts will remain in jail until a sentencing hearing on the firearms charge set for September 1. The Class-D felony carries a sentence of two to four years in prison.

Sumner County District Attorney General Ray Whitley said his office plans to re-try Batts for reckless homicide.

"Obviously it's not a win, it's a stalemate," said Whitley when asked for his reaction to the reckless homicide verdict.

Whitley said his office would have done nothing differently in the case.

"We put on the best case we could," he said. "We just never know what a jury is going to do."

Judge Gay set a status hearing in the case for 9 a.m. on Aug. 18.

"We'll negotiate if that's what the defense wants to do to see if there's any common ground we could reach, if not we'll have to go to trial," said Whitley.

Batts' attorney Joy Kimbrough said after the verdict she agreed all along her client was guilty of the firearms charge.

Additionally, her argument that Timea's death was an accident and not the result of reckless behavior on Batts' part seems to have resonated with jurors.

"In this judicial system he's been a victim," said Kimbrough.

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