The jury weighing bribery charges against Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., told the judge Monday that the members are deadlocked on whether to convict him – but the judge told them to take the rest of the day off and try again.
“As of 2 p.m., on behalf of all the jurors, we cannot reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges,” the jury wrote in a note to Judge William Walls. “Is there any additional guidance? And what do we do now?”
The note from the jury came on the first day of deliberations after a female juror was excused from the panel for a long-planned vacation. That former juror predicted the panel would end in a hung jury.
Menendez is accused of engaging in a corrupt bargain with Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen. Prosecutors say the senator took gifts such as a luxury hotel stay, private flights and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Melgen and in return Menendez acted as the doctor’s “personal senator,” advocating on his behalf on various government matters.
Prosecutor Peter Koski said the jury had been deliberating only a couple of hours with its new juror and asked that Walls tell them to continue talking.
Menendez attorney Abbe Lowell said 11 of the 12 jurors have been deliberating for several days and asked that Walls declare a mistrial.
Walls chose to send the jury home an hour early and asked it to continue deliberations Tuesday morning.
On Thursday, the judge excused a juror who had a long-planned vacation. That juror said that she felt the panel was deadlocked – and that she felt strongly that Menendez was not guilty.
“What I saw, the government didn’t give me enough. So I think the defense showed me enough to say he’s not guilty on every count,” Juror No. 8, Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, said as she left the courthouse.
She said other jurors also want to vote not guilty on some counts, “but I’m the only one that’s held out that he’s not guilty on every single charge.”
The panel heard nine weeks of testimony before beginning its deliberations last week.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Alan Maimon, Devlin Barrett