Bell verdict: Judge may order jury to keep deliberating
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After the jury in the Bell corruption case returned only a partial verdict, Los Angeles County Superior Judge Kathleen Kennedy may decide to ask them to continue deliberations.
Five former Bell City Council members were found guilty Wednesday of stealing public money by paying themselves extraordinary salaries in one of Los Angeles County’s poorest cities.
But the verdicts in the four-week trial were decidedly mixed, as the defendants -- Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal -- were also found not guilty of some of the charges they faced. The sixth defendant, Luis Artiga, was found not guilty on all counts. The jury did not reach a verdict in about half of the counts faced by five of the defendants.
The foreman told Kennedy that the jury was 9-3 on the remaining counts, but did not indicate whether they were leaning toward guilty or not guilty. Several jurors said they did not believe there was anything else that could be done to help them reach a verdict. But four jurors said they could use additional information about state laws.
‘As much as I hate to do this, I think the court needs to inquire further,’ Kennedy said. ‘I know you thought this was going to be the end and I was going to be releasing you.’
Kennedy ordered the jury to take a lunch break. They will return at 2 p.m. to further discuss the next course of action.
Kennedy can send them back to deliberate further. Or she can determine that the jury is deadlocked on those counts. It would be up to the district attorney to decide whether to retry the council members on those charges.
-- Corina Knoll, Ruben Vives and Richard Winton