GRANT COUNTY, Ind. — A judge cited positive COVID-19 cases as the reason for a mistrial in the trial of a Gas City woman accused of killing her stepdaughter.
Amanda Carmack faces charges of murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, domestic battery resulting in death and strangulation in the death of 10-year-old Skylea Carmack.
The 10-year-old was reported missing in late August 2019. Police found her body hidden inside trash bags in a shed. She’d been strangled; police said Carmack admitted to killing Skylea days after initially reporting her missing.
Carmack’s trial will now have to wait. Court proceedings had already been delayed after individuals associated with the trial tested positive for COVID-19. The court called for a recess on Oct. 27 and hoped to resume on Wednesday, Nov. 4.
However, the court said the spouse of someone associated with the trial tested positive for the coronavirus on Nov. 1. The individual, considered a “critical participant in the trial,” would have to quarantine for an additional 14 days after the spouse’s 10-day isolation.
The court said that would result in a 24-day delay, and with the Thanksgiving holiday quickly approaching, the trial would be further delayed “as a practical matter.”
The court determined that another delay was inappropriate, finding “that there is manifest necessity to grant mistrial in the case.”
From the court order:
The Court makes such Order over the objection of the Defendant and with full appreciation that all parties, attorneys, jurors, and, indeed, the Court, would have preferred to complete the trial if it were possible to do so timely, safely and within the bounds of fundamental fairness. The Court commends counsel for their extensive preparation and effective presentation of evidence and arguments, and commends the jurors for their patience and careful attentiveness. These efforts were all the more commendable as they occurred in the throes of pandemic. Nonetheless, with great reluctance, the Court declares mistrial in this cause.
The mistrial doesn’t dismiss the charges against Carmack; it simply means prosecutors will need to seek another trial.