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Judge declares mistrial for woman accused of shooting 16-year-old in Jacksonville Wawa

The jury could not agree on a verdict in Sheatavia Cooper's case. Her attorneys argued she acted in self-defense when she shot the teen after a fight.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A mistrial has been declared for a Jacksonville woman accused of murdering a 16-year-old who was shot in the parking lot of a Wawa on the city's Westside. 

Witness testimony came to an end in the afternoon and the jury deliberated for almost four hours as they attempted to decide if Sheatavia Cooper committed the second-degree murder of Teneria McClendon in 2020.

The jurors returned with a note to the judge: "We do not agree on a verdict." 

"This family has suffered too long, and they got us here all night now the jury can't come to a decision the state already prove their point," McClendon's relative, Junior Cummings, said. 

This means that Cooper will not be charged and the trial will restart. Her next pretrial hearing is February 15.

Wednesday morning, Cooper was on the witness stand and started to get emotional when she was asked questions from the State about the night of July 18, 2020, when McClendon was killed.

She says that night she was fearful for her life after a group of woman including McClendon started arguing with her at the Wawa on the Westside.

This argument began after a comment Cooper says she made at the register to her sister. 

Cooper said this comment was made based off a conversation McClendon and her friends and family were having. The argument continued to escalate. 

"A verbal altercation that this defendant escalated. Escalated by going out to her car, escalated by retrieving her firearm, and escalated by then spitting and shooting the victim in the neck killing her," said the state prosecutor.

Assistant State Attorney, LeTesha Campbell showed surveillance video of Cooper walking to her car and grabbing her purse that had a gun in it. During cross examination Campbell asked Cooper: if she was so fearful for her life, why did she go back into the Wawa?

Campbell: You were in fear for your life?

Cooper: Yes, ma'am.

Campbell: Okay, because you fear that - of what? You were fearing that something might happen? 

Cooper: That they were going to harm me. Yes ma'am/

Campbell: Okay, but did anyone harm you? 

Cooper:  No, ma'am.

Campbell: Did you anybody touch you? 

Cooper: No, ma'am.

Cooper says the girls continued to argue with her while she was going back inside to get her food at Wawa.

“They followed me to my car in the process of me getting my I.D so in that moment I started backing up, and I was in fear for my life and I didn’t know what to do so I pulled my gun out and put it by my side and I told them to leave me alone," Cooper said.

Shortly after, Cooper says she pulled out her gun spit on McClendon and then shot her. She said she felt threatened.

“The defendant made a choice an she made the decision to spit shoot and kill Teneria McClendon," said Campbell. She says this shooting was a criminal act.

The defense argues that Cooper was acting in self-defense.

"It's 2020, she regrets it, but that doesn't matter. It is not a requirement. She did not have to walk away under the law," said the Cooper's attorney.

Cooper's family did not comment after leaving the courthouse, while McClendon's was in a state of shock. 

"That mother over there she's been really hurt, and they don't know what we've been through as a family. We're a praying family we've got some prayer warriors out here too. God says justice is going to be prevailed whether they want it to or not," Cummings said. 

The defense attorney says during this trial Cooper was straightforward in answering questions and that she felt remorse instantly.

Cooper's attorney says if jurors are going to convict Cooper, they suggest manslaughter.

Credit: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

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