Posted on December 20, 2023

Mistrial Declared in Sentencing Phase of Trial for Man Who Shot and Killed Houston Father of Two

Michelle Homer, KHOU, December 14, 2023

Jurors deciding the fate of Lazarius Harper, who was convicted of manslaughter in the road rage shooting death of Kevin Kirk, couldn’t agree on a sentence so the judge declared a mistrial on Thursday.

Kevin Kirk and family

Kevin Kirk and family

Harper’s conviction still stands but a new jury will be chosen for the sentencing phase.

After deliberating for several hours Wednesday, jurors told the judge they were deadlocked, but he ordered them to keep trying. They returned Thursday morning to try again but one juror told the judge they couldn’t continue so an alternate replaced that person.

At 1:30 p.m., the judge dismissed the jury.


Kirk was on Westheimer after picking up dinner for his wife and two children when a group of ATVs surrounded his vehicle and tried to pull him out, Houston police said. Harper shot the father of two as he tried to drive away. {snip}

Mistrials in the sentencing phase are very rare.

“If you’ve ever been to an amusement park and you’ve been on a roller coaster, this is what Mandy Kirk’s family & her friends have been through for the last few days,” Crime Stoppers Victim Services Director Andy Kahan said. “First, you get kind of sucker-punched with the verdict, they were hoping for a murder conviction they get a lesser included with manslaughter, and then for the next two days it’s been up and down for them as far as the emotional pain they’ve had to endure with waiting to see if a jury would come back with a punishment.”


Prosecutors wanted the maximum sentence of 20 years but defense attorneys asked for probation.

Before the mistrial, Kahan said the family was concerned that Harper might not have to serve time.

“It was strange to actually be hoping and praying we get a mistrial, never seen that before in my 30 years, but at least we got the mistrial and hopefully a new jury will see it a little bit more clearly and assess the maximum punishment of 20 years.”

Harper was out on bond for evading arrest when he shot Kirk.


Defense attorneys say that Kirk intentionally ran into Harper before he shot him.

“Don’t fall trap to those emotional pleas, that’s all they are. Only one person is going be affected by your decision today and that’s Lazarius,” defense attorney Maverick Ray said.

After the mistrial, Ray said this has all been hard on Harper’s family too.