Judge declares mistrial in vehicular manslaughter case

REDDING, Calif. - Jurors have declared a mistrial in the case of Jered Barbour. He is the man accused of hitting and killing a Cottonwood fire captain with his Dodge pickup truck following a hail storm in February 2012.

Capt. Mark Ratledge, 35, was helping rescue two drivers who spun off Interstate-5 near the Gas Point Road exit during the rough early morning weather of Feb. 29.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Barbour lost control of his vehicle, skidded off the road in the same area and hit Ratledge and other officers helping at the scene. Ratledge was crushed by the pickup truck and was killed.

The jury reentered the Shasta County courtroom late Thursday afternoon announcing they had reached a deadlock. The judge declared a mistrial.

The jury was leaning 10-2 in favor of acquitting Barbour.

Ratledge's girlfriend was not pleased with the decision.

"I'm just kind of in shock," said Jennifer Hobbs. "I'm going to accept what they have said but I fear what that's going to look like to everyone else in Shasta County. You need to just slow down and be responsible for your driving."

Both the prosecution and defense made their final closing arguments before the jury Wednesday. The Shasta County deputy district attorney reiterated that Barbour was driving too fast for the conditions that day and did not use reasonable caution.

Then Barbour's public defender addressed the jury.

"There are such things as accidents, as tragic as they may be," he said.

The deputy district attorney offered his rebuttal.

"That doesn't mean it's not also a crime," he said.

Hobbs said she still wants to see action being taken.

"It was an accident. I don't blame him," she said. "But you still need to take responsibility for his actions and own up to what he did."

The Shasta County District Attorney's office will have to decide whether to re-file charges against Barbour. The defense will file a motion to dismiss the case. They will reconvene in court Friday.

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