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Mistrial Declared in Harding Civil Suit

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BRYAN, Texas A mistrial has been declared in the civil trial involving a family whose 14-year-old son was hit and killed by a state trooper's vehicle.

The family of Mark Harding filed the lawsuit against the State of Texas for pain and suffering and to pay for medical and funeral expenses.

Despite hearing closing arguments again Friday morning, the jury could not make a decision and remained deadlocked 6 to 6.

At least 10 jurors had to agree on a verdict.

The judge declared a mistrial in the Harding Family's civil suit against the State of Texas.

14-year-old Mark Harding was accidentally killed when he was hit by a DPS Patrol car around 1 A.M. on September 14, 2011.

He and a friend were skate boarding across the access road of Highway 6 and William D. Fitch Parkway in College Station when their longboards got tangled.

Mark Harding stopped to pick them up.

Harding's friend was able to get out of the way, but Harding didn't.

Trooper Justin Stohler claims he couldn't see him in the middle of the road.

The Harding Family's attorney Bennie Rush will present the case again.

"While my family is disappointed in that we didn't get a verdict, they do feel vindication for the fact that there are six folks that think the officer was negligent on the day this accident occurred," said Rush.

Judge J.D. Langley had attorneys present closing arguments again to try and avoid a mistrial.

The state said it was an unavoidable accident and the trooper didn't see Harding because of poor lighting.

The family's attorney says there was negligence because Trooper Stohler failed to brake or swerve.

"I don't believe Trooper Stohler when he says he was looking where he was going because it's just hard for me to believe if you look where you're going you don't see what's in front of you. The kid was 5'9 he was wearing a white t-shirt," said Bennie Rush.

Trooper Justin Stohler, State Attorneys, as well as the Harding Family and friends all declined to speak with us on camera.

News 3 spoke with several jurors outside the courthouse following the mistrial and they told us off camera their hearts go out to the family.

They said this was a very difficult case and the arguments and evidence on both sides were enough to keep the jury divided.

A new trial date has not been set yet and it is still not known if the trial will happen at the Brazos County Courthouse again or if there will be a change of venue.

*Previous Story*

A mistrial has been declared in the civil trial involving the death of a 14-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a State Trooper's vehicle.

Mark Harding was skateboarding with a friend on the access road of Highway 6, near William D. Fitch Parkway, when he was hit at 1:00 a.m. in September 2011.

The Harding family filed a civil suit. The case was finally heard this week to decide whether Harding's death was the result of negligence on his own part, the State of Texas, or a combination of both.

Jurors could not reach a verdict after deliberating all day Thursday.

Friday morning, each side had 30 minutes to make one final argument. But that did not sway the jury. They remained deadlocked at 6-6, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial. At least 10 of the 12 jurors must have agreed for there to be a verdict.

The case will be retried at a later date.

News 3 will have more on this breaking story tonight at 5:00 and 6:00.


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