Could there be a mistrial? Jurors say they cannot reach an agreement in the case against former State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. The judge sent them back to work, but the possibility of a hung jury now seems much more likely. Our Grace Rauh has more.
NEW YORK STATE -- Deadlocked. That's what jurors told a federal judge in the conspiracy and theft trial against former State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.
“This doesn't come as a surprise,” Espada said.
Jurors wrote a note to the judge saying they could not reach a unanimous decision on the charges. The note came on day eight of deliberations.
“It was the government's job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 people that Senator Espada and Gautier Espada were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We believe they failed to do that,” said Susan Necheles, Espada’s attorney.
Deliberations appear to have been intense and sometimes hostile. Earlier, one juror apparently refused to deliberate. Jurors also wrote the judge about screaming, cursing, name calling and bullying in the jury room.
“We must respect where they are at every moment. And at this moment, their work is not completed,” Espada said.
Espada is accused of stealing more than half a million dollars from the publicly-funded health care clinic he ran in the Bronx. His attorney has argued that he was entitled to the money.
The judge ordered the jury to continue deliberating. He reminded them that they have the option of reaching a partial verdict if there is consensus on some of the charges. He also noted that the trial was long and expensive.
Espada made it clear that a mistrial would not be a victory in his book.
“Two years. An invasion of medical centers. Two months of trial. Negative publicity at every angle every day. And my heart goes out to those people who hold on to their commitment to do justice so that my son and myself and my family can enjoy our lives,” Espada said.
If there is a hung jury, federal prosecutors are expected to retry the case. Which means Espada's fate could end up in the hands of a jury at least one more time.