Miami Homegrown Terrorism Trial : Jury Says Its Deadlocked
Update: No verdict today (Tuesday.) They'll be back tomorrow morning.
It looks like another defeat for the feds in the homegrown terror trial of the Liberty City, Florida defendants they said wanted to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and federal buildings in Miami. (Background here.)The trial began in September and went to the jury on December 4. The jury deliberated four days and told the Judge Thursday it was deadlocked. Today, the Judge gave the dynamite instruction, called the Allen charge, and told them to keep going. They'll be back tomorrow, but trial oberservers don't expect a verdict.
The case was one of those trumpeted by Alberto Gonzales. It seemed like overblown hype from the beginning.
The defendants assert they were ensnared by an FBI informant and had no intention of participating in such schemes. Six months after their arrest, Narseal Batiste, the lead defendant, sent a 25 page letter to the media, explaining his position.
Here's the charge the Judge gave to the jury today:
"If a substantial majority of your number are in favor of a conviction, those of you who disagree should reconsider whether your doubt is a reasonable one since it appears to make no effective impression upon the minds of the others. On the other hand, if a majority or even a lesser number of you are in favor of an acquittal, the rest of you should ask yourselves again, and most thoughtfully, whether you should accept the weight and sufficiency of evidence which fails to convince your fellow jurors beyond a reasonable doubt."
The competing sides:
During a two-month trial, prosecutors tried to prove the group belonged to an extremist religious sect that wanted to bring down the U.S. government. The crux of their plan, prosecutors said, was to launch terrorist attacks that would cause devastation "even greater than 9/11."
Defense lawyers insisted their clients were set up by paid government informants and had no intention of following through with any terrorist attacks.
Batiste testified for 8 days, "telling jurors he pretended to be a terrorist because he thought one informant would give him $50,000."
Just two months ago in Dallas, according to today's Miami Herald article:
...a federal judge in Dallas declared a mistrial for four former leaders of a Muslim charity charged with funding terrorism. A fifth defendant, the chairman of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, was acquitted of most charges against him.
Sentencing in the other Miami terror trial -- that of Jose Padilla and his two co-defendants, has been re-set in January. The Government is asking for life sentences. Before learning of the continuance, one of the defendants, Adham Amin Hassoun, attempted suicide at the Miami Detention Center.
Hassoun tried to hang himself with a bedsheet after he was moved from one cell to another for security reasons, said several sources, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitive matter. He was transferred to an area where other inmates were constantly screaming, and his new cell had a foul stench, they said.
Hassoun, a Palestinian whose wife and children relocated to Lebanon, is under 24-hour observation in a sterile cell without bedding, the sources said. He also is taking antidepressant medication.
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