A Baton Rouge man whose recent murder trial in the 2017 slaying of an Allstate financial planner ended in a mistrial after a jury could not reach a verdict rejected an offer Monday to plead guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a 20-year prison term.

Daryel Johnson, 38, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if he's convicted of second-degree murder at his Jan. 24 retrial in the killing of Dale Sands. A verdict must be unanimous.

Johnson also is charged with witness intimidation, but after deliberating for 4½ hours on June 19 the jury of 10 women and two men had eight guilty votes and four not guilty votes on the murder count, and 10 guilty votes and two not guilty votes on the other charge.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday the state remains "confident in our evidence to support a conviction as charged."

But he said the state made a "fair offer" to Johnson "in an effort to begin to bring closure and some relief to the family of Mr. Sands following a long, emotional trial which resulted in a hung jury."

Sands, 53, of Central, was a husband and father of four.

"Mr. Johnson hates that the family may have to relive this tragedy through another trial. However, he maintains his innocence," Rob Ray, one of Johnson's attorneys, said.

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Moore said the state will now proceed to trial "to ensure that the victims of this case receive the justice they deserve and as is required by the evidence."

The jury had the option of convicting Johnson of second-degree murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide, or finding him not guilty. Any of those verdicts had to be unanimous.

Sands' body was discovered Aug. 23, 2017, in the backyard of a residence at 9076 Great Smokey Ave. next to BREC's Oak Villa Park. Johnson lived at 9074 Great Smokey Ave.

Authorities believe Sands was shot to death during an armed robbery the previous afternoon, when he and his green F-150 went missing. Prosecutors said they believe Sands was relaxing at the park between appointments when he was killed. He was found without his wallet, phone or keys. His driver's license was in his pants pocket.

Johnson's DNA and fingerprints were found inside the truck. Johnson, who did not testify at the trial, told police he traded crack cocaine to another man for the truck.

Prosecutors argued Johnson twice confessed to the slaying: first when he told a coworker he killed a man for his truck, and then when he told the woman he was living with that the situation escalated when the victim wouldn't give up his pickup. The woman testified that Johnson told her she would regret it if she didn't keep her mouth shut.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.