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After four days, no jury decision in terror trial
Published December 7, 2007
MIAMI - Jurors have not agreed to a single verdict after four days of deliberations in the trial of seven men accused of plotting with al-Qaida to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices, a defense lawyer said Thursday.
The jury sent a note to the judge Thursday that was not made public, but Gregory Prebish, attorney for defendant Burson Augustin, said it indicated that the panel was possibly deadlocked.
"It's clear that the jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict for any one of the defendants on any of the counts," said Prebish, who was designated by other defense attorneys as their spokesman in court.
Each defendant faces four terror-related conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors and the defense agreed that the 12 jurors should be instructed to keep trying, and U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard did so. Lenard refused to release a copy of the jury note.
Lenard ordered the jurors to return this morning to resume deliberations.
The so-called "Liberty City Seven" face up to 70 years in prison if convicted on all charges, which include conspiracy to wage war against the United States and conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida. Authorities say the group never obtained any explosives or military weaponry necessary to topple the 110-story Sears Tower or bomb FBI offices in Miami and other cities.
The group's leader, Narseal Batiste, testified that he went along with the plots in a scheme to extort $50,000 out of a man claiming to be an al-Qaida operative. That man, known to the group as Brother Mohammed, was an FBI informant.
The June 2006 arrests were touted by the Bush administration as a prime example of the post-Sept. 11 strategy of disrupting potential terror plots in the earliest possible stages.