Mistrial declared in retrial of man accused of killing Tori Lang

Austin Ford, a 20-year-old man from Lithonia, charged in murder of girl found at Yellow River Park. (Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office)

A Gwinnett County judge has declared a mistrial for the second time on Friday in the murder of a Lithonia man accused of killing his best friend.

Austin Ford, 21, was facing several charges in the death of 18-year-old Tori Lang.

The jury was deadlocked 8-4 in favor of conviction in Ford’s second trial that ended this week.

He had faced a life sentence if convicted of felony murder for Lang’s shooting death, which happened in July 2021.

The jury foreman told the judge they remained deadlocked in reaching a unanimous verdict in the case and that only new evidence would break the stalemate.

Ford’s defense argued that he was wrongly accused of murder because Lang decided to kill herself. A medical examiner was unable to determine if Lang’s death was a homicide or suicide, but Gwinnett County prosecutors said the more likely scenario was that Ford was pointing the .9 mm handgun at Lang when the gunshot was fired.

Tori Lang (Photo: Family)

Lang, a Stephenson High School honor graduate, was pursing a degree in architectural engineering. Her body was found at Yellow River Park in Gwinnett County on the morning of July 28. According to authorities, Lang's car was set on fire and dumped at a nature preserve a few miles away. Police said officers found her light blue 2012 Nissan Versa at the Hidden Acres Nature Preserve in DeKalb County, about four miles from where Lang was shot.

On May 1, a separate Gwinnett County jury reached a partial verdict in the case. The court declared a mistrial on counts 1-5. Those were the most serious charges, which included felony murder. Ford was found guilty on counts 6-8: 2 counts of theft by taking, and concealing the death of another.

Both sides will meet next week to discuss either a third trial or moving to the sentencing of Ford for his convictions in the first case.