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Juror disagreement ends landmark case in mistrial

A March 4 mistrial in a case against a 53-year-old business man means the defendant could face yet a fourth trial on charges of trafficking cocaine from D.C. to Mexico. Jurors could not decide on his guilt on the drug charges.

The man's case previously went before the Supreme Court in 2012 when the high court reversed a guilty verdict and the accompanying penalties due to the illegal placement of a Global Positioning System on his vehicle to locate him. A previous trial also ended in a hung jury.

The defendant represented himself in federal court despite his lack of legal experience. The 11 women and one man deliberated for more than seven days but could not agree on one of the charges. Two of them said they questioned the alleged connection between the defendant and the drug house containing 97 kilograms of cocaine. 

The defendant could have taken advantage of a plea agreement for as few as eight years in prison. A conviction would mean a life sentence because of his criminal history. For this reason and due to the high quantity of drugs, federal prosecutors will probably continue to pursue a conviction.

The prosecution attempted to demonstrate that the suspect, who owned a nightclub that has since closed, held coded phone calls with others involved in drugs. Some of the jurors did not think that the conversations indicated any type of illegal activity. In addition, he was never actually found with drugs on his person, in his possession or at his business. However, surveillance videos placed him at the stash house as did his cellphone locator.

Concerns about legalities in this case have dragged it out for years. A Maryland criminal defense attorney might be able to raise additional questions about the validity of evidence.

Source: Washington Post, "Judge declares mistrial in D.C. area drug case," Ann E. Marimow, March 4, 2013

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Law Offices of
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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013