Mistrial pushes Bigford murder case to new date

January 21, 2016

Mary Bigford

Mary Bigford

By Pat Maurer

Lab results on a bullet, what Judge Paul Chamberlain called “critical evidence,” that came back just a week before the Bigford murder trial began led to the declaration of a mistrial shortly after the trial started January 15.

Mary Lou Bigford of Lake has been charged with the April 18 murder of Lawrence Howard Jr., the father of Bigford’s three-year-old granddaughter.

Police said earlier that Howard was shot six times, once in the head. A witness identified Bigford as the shooter in a photo lineup, police said.

A neighbor notified police around 12:30 p.m. April 18 of shots fired at Chase Run apartments in the 3700 block of South Isabella Road. Officers dispatched to the scene found Lawrence Howard Jr., 39, of Fenton dead in his silver Dodge Journey from multiple gunshot wounds.

Witnesses to the shooting identified Bigford.

According to an article on the Morning Sun Facebook page, “Four people say they saw Bigford with a gun at the complex and driving away from the scene.

Bigford admitted to killing Howard, her Uncle said. He said she said she threw the gun she used in a ditch. He had given her the gun two years ago to shoot animals.

Bigford reportedly believed that Howard had molested his three-year-old daughter.

First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent is a five-year felony, felonious assault is a four-year felony and the firearms charge carries an additional two year sentence.
In the first moments of the murder trial last Friday, Isabella County Prosecutor Risa Hunt-Scully said in her opening statements that the lab results showed that the bullet fragments found in Howard’s body matched a bullet found in Bigford’s car.

Defense Attorney Sara Spencer-Noggle objected to the test results since she only received the results January 8th.

Chamberlain was upset that Spencer-Noggle had not filed a motion January 8 to postpone the trial while the defense analyzed the test results.

He also voiced concern over questions by the prosecutor during jury selection.

Because of scheduling difficulties and his concerns with the questioning during the jury selection, Chamberlain declared a mistrial.

A new trial date will be selected and another jury selected for the Bigford murder trial.

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