A mistrial has been declared in the trial of two people accused of attempting to extort $25 million from actor John Travolta after the death of his 16-year-old son, Jett.
Senior Supreme Court Judge Anita Allen said she believed someone in the jury had been having inappropriate "communication" outside of the jury room, where jurors had been deliberating for eight hours
The judge had received information that an announcement had been made at a local political rally that one of the defendants had been found not guilty. Allen told the court hearing the news left her no choice but to order a retrial. (A new trial date was not set.)
"The dilemma that we face is great," Allen told the court. "I am erring on the side of caution. Justice must be transparent."
Though they pleaded not guilty, Paramedic Tarino Lightbourn and former Bahamian Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater, who is also Lightbourn's attorney, had been charged with conspiring to extort $25 million from Travolta.
The prosecution claimed they demanded money in exchange for not releasing private information to the press about the death of the actor's son, who passed away last January following a seizure in the family vacation home on Grand Bahama island.
The jury, which deliberated about nine hours, had spent a month listening to testimony including from Travolta, who took the stand and recounted his son's final moments.
Michael Ossi, one of the actor's attorneys, told the Associated Press his client would cooperate in any way possible and testify again if necessary.
"We are disappointed to hear about the alleged juror misconduct since we know that the Bahamian government, the court, the other jurors and John Travolta as the victim want to have this matter adjudicated through the judicial system," a rep for the actor says. "Mr. Travolta has and will continue to cooperate with the Bahamian authorities in the prosecution of the defendants for extortion."
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