Juror No. 8: "Everybody's not agreeing. It looks like a hung jury."
Deliberations will resume Monday with a new juror
A juror dismissed from the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez said she believes the case is headed toward a “hung jury,” and wrote a note to Judge William Walls expressing her concerns.
“It’s going to be a hung jury,” Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, the former “Juror No. 8,” said in an interview with CNN. “I gave him my feelings about what was going on in the jury room. I just wanted to express to him that we couldn’t reach an agreement.”
Her note to the judge, the details of which have not previously been reported, was passed to Walls’ courtroom deputy Thursday afternoon as Arroyo-Maultsby left for the day and she said the deputy accepted it.
Arroyo-Maultsby had longstanding vacation plans to the Bahamas Saturday that Judge William Walls had agreed to honor, and was excused Thursday afternoon as the day end concluded with no verdict.
After she was dismissed, she provided an extraordinary peek behind the curtain into over 16 hours of jury deliberations, describing a “tense” mood in the jury room with the vote “flip-flopping” at times.
The former juror was adamant the senator should be found not guilty on all charges.
“I felt, and I felt in my heart, that he was not guilty on all charges,” she told CNN by phone. “(Prosecutors) just didn’t show me enough, and I just wish I wasn’t going on vacation – I would’ve been fighting in that jury room.”
“I got very tense because I felt like they were trying to get me to change my mind,” the former Juror No. 8 said. “I know there’s a few that feel the same way I do, and they’re going to hold their own.”
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
Menendez is accused of engaging in a seven-year bribery scheme, accepting lavish gifts from Dr. Salomon Melgen – a Florida ophthalmologist – in exchange for political favors. Both men deny all charges.
Arroyo-Maultsby told CNN that jurors’ votes “were more toward not guilty” on the bribery and conspiracy charges, but by Wednesday, jurors were convinced to convict Menendez on a lesser count of failing to report free rides on Melgen’s private jet on his Senate financial disclosure forms.
Yet she changed her vote on that charge after thinking about it overnight.
“I prayed on it,” Arroyo-Maultsby said, explaining that she went back in the jury room Thursday and told her colleagues she had to vote not guilty on that count as well, and managed to convince at least two others.
“I’m not going to put anyone in jail when I have reasonable doubt,” she added.
Arroyo-Maultsby said that several other jurors had tried dissuade her from writing to Walls during deliberations about how they were deadlocked on some counts, but she ultimately decided to write him anyway.
Overall, she said, the jurors “got along,” and plan to go out for drinks when the trial is finally over.
Deliberations will resume Monday morning with an alternate juror to replace Arroyo-Maultsby, but as Walls has warned the lawyers, the move means jurors have to start deliberations “again from scratch.”
Alternate jurors watched the proceedings of the 10-week trial and heard all of the arguments, but have been kept separated from the main jury panel during deliberations.
Menendez told reporters Thursday that he understands the jury has “a lot to go through” in their deliberations, but has not commented on the dismissed juror’s tell-all on deliberations. The men are charged with 18 counts, and jurors were shown nearly 300 exhibits and heard from nearly 60 witnesses over the course of 10 weeks.
“I have every expectation that based upon all of the facts that have been presented at this trial, if they listen to the law and the facts, I am convinced we will be exonerated and that’s worth waiting for,” Menendez told reporters outside of court Wednesday.
Asked by a reporter if he is ready for the verdict, Menendez responded: “I am past ready for judgment day.”
So far, jurors have asked one question of the court. On Tuesday, a juror asked for a portion of Menendez attorney Abbe Lowell’s closing arguments in which he discussed the “definition of a senator.” Walls declined the juror’s request because closing arguments are not considered evidence.
The jury will continue to be comprised of seven women and five men.
This story has been updated.