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Mistrial in Tyco case after juror receives 'coercive letter'

Juror: 'We virtually had a verdict'

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CNN's Paula Zahn talks to three jurors from the Tyco case that ended in a mistrial (April 2)

A juror in the Tyco trial says the jury had reached verdicts when the judge called a mistrial -- an action he says left the jury extremely frustrated. (April 2)
• Tyco trial highlights
• Indictment:  N.Y. v. Kozlowski and Swartz  (FindLaw, PDF)external link
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Dennis Kozlowski

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -- Tyco trial juror Peter McEntegart told CNN that if he and his fellow jurors had been allowed to continue deliberations Friday they would have had a verdict within the hour.

But the corruption trial of ex-Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski ended in a mistrial after a juror thought to be holding out for acquittal received what sources called a "coercive letter" in the past 24 hours.

"At this point, I am almost numb," McEntegart told CNN Friday.

"We virtually had a verdict yesterday afternoon. Someone said, 'Why don't we stay an extra half hour?' because we were that close."

He said he expected he and his fellow jurors would reach a verdict within an hour had they been allowed to continue deliberations.

McEntegart said he felt many of the charges had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, but not all of them.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Michael Obus granted a new defense motion for a mistrial after rejecting numerous earlier requests, citing what he said was outside pressure on one of the jurors. He did not give any details, but sources close to the case told CNNfn about the letter sent to juror No. 4.

Notes from the jury room a week ago suggested that that juror, a retired teacher and lawyer, was holding out for acquittal. The juror believed to be the holdout caused an uproar a week ago by apparently flashing an "OK" sign to the defense team.

That prompted some media, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, to take the unusual step of identifying her in news reports, which prompted the defense lawyers to file for a mistrial several times.

Obus, before dismissing the jury Friday, told them it is "simply a shame that this has to be done at this time.

"Every citizen of this state owes you a debt of gratitude," he added.

Obus said he was concerned about the unfairness of the mistrial to the jury.

"I am concerned as well about the impact this may have on jury selection in the future," he added.

Juror No. 4 sat with her arms crossed as Obus addressed the jury. Another female juror appeared to be in tears. The jury left the courthouse by bus without making any comments to the media.

New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office issued a statement saying the state would seek a retrial.

Kozlowski and co-defendant Mark Swartz, the company's ex-chief financial officer, had been accused of bilking Tyco of $600 million in one of the most closely watched of the recent corporate fraud cases.

They maintained their innocence throughout the trial.

"We're disappointed that due to some events that occurred outside of the courtroom, that this case did not reach a verdict," said Stephen Kaufman, a lawyer for Kozlowski, speaking to reporters after the court proceedings. "My client went into this case with courage and determination. He still has those qualities today."

Swartz' attorney, Charles Stillman, said he expects the two will face a retrial. Obus will meet with attorneys May 7 to discuss the date for a new trial.

Stillman said the record of the case had been sealed by the judge and he could not comment on the reasons for the mistrial. But he suggested there were reasons beyond what has been widely reported.

Some legal experts suggested that the prosecution would have the advantage in the retrial.

"A mistrial is generally good for the defendant because he's gotten a look at the government's case, and he can defend the case better the second time around, [but] I think this case is going to the exception to the rule," said Frank Razzano, a former federal prosecutor.

Razzano said the prosecution will be able to do a better job presenting its case after learning from its mistakes.

"This case dragged on for six months. There has been some criticism of the prosecutors. The case was made overly complex. The case became very complicated with the prosecutors trying to prove to the jury this complicated legal theory," he said.

Still, even if the prosecution has an upper hand in a new trial, this outcome is good news for the defendants, said David Berg, an attorney and author, especially considering that the jury was apparently 11-to-1 for conviction.

"You cannot be disappointed when you walk out the front door and not into a holding cell," Berg said. "If Mr. Kaufman is disappointed, I am the tooth fairy."

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