A judge in Northern Virginia has declared a mistrial in the case of a young man accused of killing a caterer after a wedding.
After six hours of deliberations, the jury told the judge they could not come to a decision on murder charges against Kempton Bonds. The 20-year-old said he stabbed a wedding caterer last summer after she threatened him and then gripped him by the throat. Wedding guests said he was the aggressor.
The judge said some jurors were not speaking to one another. The 12 people left the courthouse Friday evening looking exhausted.
Tyonne Johns, 35, died after Bonds, a seasonal employee for the Fairfax County Park Authority, stabbed her after a wedding Aug. 6, 2016 in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, police said. The two argued as Bonds told Johns that the chairs she was packing into her company's truck belonged to the park authority, not her company, according to police.
Jurors Deliberate in Kempton Bonds Murder Trial
Loved ones of Bonds and Johns were escorted out of the courtroom separately on Friday. Deputies stayed late to keep the peace.
Bonds will be retried. The next trial date will be determined at a court appearance in August.
In closing arguments Friday, prosecutors argued Bonds was the aggressor.
"It's a 3-inch blade. He stuck it into her ... and that knife pierced her heart. He was going for death," a lawyer said.
Bonds' defense attorney argued that his client, then 19, was only defending himself.
“I’m glad for Kempton Bonds that he had that knife, because I’m afraid of what would’ve happened to him had he not," the lawyer said.
Murder Suspect: I Stabbed Caterer in Self-Defense
The jury had three questions for the judge and attorneys late Friday afternoon. They asked for clarification on the definitions of "heat of passion," "involuntary manslaughter" and then "voluntary manslaughter." The judge referred them to his previous jury instructions.
The jurors have reviewed two 911 calls Bonds placed before and after the killing. They also have video Bonds shot on his own cellphone.
He said during about four hours of testimony Thursday that Johns backed him into a railing and grabbed his neck. He said he opened inside his pocket a pocketknife he carries.
"I opened the knife when I realized I wasn't breathing," he said. "I was trying to yell, but I couldn't get much out."
Bonds recorded the tense moments using his cellphone.
"Little boy! Little boy!" a woman can be heard yelling.
Then, a struggle can be heard and a woman cries out.
"Oh. You stabbed me?" she says.
Bonds then can be heard shouting "Police!" again and again.
Johns was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Bonds remained at the crime scene and was taken into police custody.
Johns was a talented chef with many friends, her loved ones said. She "loved to love, loved to cook. People, in general, just flocked to her," one friend previously told News4.
Bonds called police earlier in the night and said he was threatened at the wedding.
He angered wedding guests by picking rose petals off the floor because they were not allowed, and cutting power to the music before the 9 p.m. deadline, The Washington Post reported.
Then, the fatal encounter occurred.
Bonds said he called 911 as soon as he could.
"I also have another call in saying that there's been a stabbing there. Is that correct?" the dispatcher says on the recording of the call.
"Yes. They attacked me. I defended myself," Bonds responds.
"Did somebody stab you?" she asks.
"No," he replies.
"You stabbed somebody?" the dispatcher asks.
"She had her hands around my throat," the 19-year-old replied.
Several people who heard Bonds' testimony Thursday were emotional. Some had to leave the room. They described Johns as the victim, not the aggressor.