UPDATE: Mistrial ordered in Caddo contractor fraud case

UPDATE (5/27/10, 8:23 p.m.)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- Caddo District Judge Mike Pittman has dismissed the jury in the trial of contractor James Alex III, accused of defrauding the elderly through a home-repair program.

Attorneys on both sides agreed to make a joint motion for mistrial shortly before 8 p.m. tonight, three hours after the case was handed over to the jury to deliberate.

The mistrial comes after it was discovered that the jury was given the wrong instructions involving the penalty provisions in the home improvement fraud statute.

That statute was amended in 2010, and the jury was given the updated provisions, instead of being given the statute from 2009, since that was when the alleged criminal act took place.

Alex's trial is expected to be re-set for August.

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) –Opening arguments got underway Thursday morning in Caddo District court in the alleged fraud trial of former Shreveport contractor James Alex III.

Alex's defense attorney told the jury that Alex had no intention to defraud or to fail to complete the work he was reportedly assigned to complete at some Shreveport homes.

KSLA Reporter, Carolyn Roy continues to follow the trial and was in court Thursday when Alex reportedly took the stand first in his own defense.

Roy reports that Alex spent an hour giving his explanation for each of the problems with repair projects that the prosecution laid out for the court Wednesday.

Roy also reports that Alex spoke directly to the jury, often in a clearly defensive tone that became even more defensive upon cross examination by prosecutors.

At one point during Alex's testimony, reportedly he admitted to not having a contractor's license, but insisted that he didn't need one. Alex reportedly testified that he had only a remodeling license and that was all he need.

He also admitted, according to Roy to overlooking the exposed sub flooring where they ripped the furnace out, but insists he went above and beyond in several areas of one Shreveport home.

He then he reportedly pointed to Shreveport city inspector's signing off on the work for the rest saying "If something's wrong and the City says it's alright, man, what can I do?"

Next on the witness stand, Roy reports, former Community Development supervisor, Wavy Lester, who resigned from his position in wake of the arrests.

The Caddo jury will also hear from Alex's job site supervisor, but Roy reports that they won't be hearing from former City Inspector, Ray Jones who would plead the fifth in order to not incriminate himself in his own trial still pending on charges of filing false public records in this case.

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