Mistrial Declared On Remaining 10 Counts In Bell Corruption Case
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A judge Thursday declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 felony counts against five defendants in the Bell corruption trial.
The “Bell 6” were charged with misappropriation of public funds in a nearly 100-count indictment more than two years ago.
On Wednesday, ex-mayor Oscar Hernandez and former council members Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal were each convicted of five counts of misappropriation of public funds and acquitted of five other counts.
Council members George Cole and Victor Bello were each convicted of two counts. Cole was acquitted of one count and Bello was acquitted of two.
Luis Artiga, who was acquitted of all 12 counts of misappropriation of public funds against him, was the only defendant to be exonerated. Of the six accused, Artiga was the most recent addition to the city council.
Jurors Thursday continued deliberations on 10 other counts of misappropriation of public funds, but ultimately remained deadlocked.
Earlier in the day, a juror sent the judge a note saying the stress of the trial may have led to an improper verdict.
“Debating in my own mind due to the pressure and stress of the deliberation process, the jury may have given an improper verdict,” the juror wrote.
Another juror note to the judge said, “I respectfully ask if you could please remind the jury to remain respectful and not make false accusations or insults to one another.”
Lawyers said the notes exposed the fact that jurors were questioning their votes on the case.
“There were multiple notes reflecting that there was potential misconduct and coercion,” said attorney Ronald Kaye.
The notes prompted the judge to declare: “It seems all hell has broken loose in the jury deliberation room.”
Defense lawyers want to appeal the guilty verdicts and talk to the jurors who wrote the messages.
“This was not, in our opinion, a complete verdict,” said Kaye.