A Baton Rouge man accused of fatally shooting an Allstate financial planner in 2017 and threatening a witness will have to be retried because a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict Saturday and a judge declared a mistrial.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his initial intent would be to retry Daryel Johnson in the slaying of Dale Sands, though he had not yet spoken with his prosecution team or the victim's family.

Johnson, 38, is charged with second-degree murder — which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison — and witness intimidation.

The verdicts on each count had to be unanimous. But after deliberating for four-and-a-half hours the jury of 10 women and two men could only manage to cast 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.

"I appreciate the jurors taking their civic duties seriously, and I admire the fact that there wasn't a compromise verdict," Johnson's lead lawyer, Rob Ray, said afterward.

The jury had the option of convicting Johnson of manslaughter or negligent homicide, or finding him not guilty.

State District Judge Eboni Johnson-Rose, who presided over the week-long trial, set a status hearing in the case for July 19 after declaring the mistrial.

She sent Johnson back to the custody of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office and told him that the District Attorney's Office has one year in which to retry the matter.

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, 53, of Central, was killed 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.

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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.

In her closing arguments Saturday to the jury, prosecutor April Leon said she initially thought when the homicide case was assigned to her that Sands "was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Leon said, however, that she came to realize that an opportunistic Johnson "was at the right pace at the right time."

"What does an opportunist look like? Daryel Glen Johnson," she said. "In this case what does an opportunist look like? A murderer. The evidence shows he is a murderer and an intimidating brute."

Leon 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.

Ray called both of those witnesses liars and pointed fingers at other adults living at 9074 Great Smokey at the time of the killing.

The defense attorney also said authorities assumed that because Johnson had been inside Sands' truck, "you must have killed a man."

The witness intimidation count accused Johnson of threatening the woman with whom he lived. She testified she overheard Johnson say on the phone that the body was found before he had a chance to move it.


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