Growing concern of hung jury in Burrell Ellis trial - CBS46 News

Growing concern of hung jury in Burrell Ellis trial

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There is growing concern there will be a hung jury in the Burrell Ellis corruption trial, as a seventh day of deliberations in the high-profile case ended Wednesday without a verdict.

The jury sent a note to the judge just before 10 a.m. It read: "After careful review of all the evidence, having several talks and discussions and debates, and trying a few different strategies, we the jury are unable to come to a unanimous conclusion in the matter of the State vs. Burrell Ellis Junior on all counts."

The suspended DeKalb County CEO is facing 13 charges, including bribery and extortion. He is accused of threatening contractors to contribute to his re-election campaign or risk losing county work.

Judge Courtney Johnson noted on Wednesday that the jury had listened to three weeks of testimony and deliberated 22 hours. She sent a note back to the jury, instructing them to continue trying to reach a verdict.

"We've got a long way to go," Johnson told the court.

Legal experts said it is clear there is tension and frustration among jurors. The judge sent them home early one day last week after they said they were bickering in the jury room.

"It's pretty clear, at this point, that the jury is having extreme difficulty reaching a unanimous decision, and we're dangerously close to the point where we might very well see a mistrial in the very near future," said Philip Holloway, a former prosecutor who is now a defense attorney.

Other attorneys agreed the case is not going well

"What it really means is that the jury is simply tired," said defense attorney Jackie Patterson. "They cannot reach a verdict. They're ready to call it a day. This really should be a mistrial."

Legal experts said the longer a jury deliberates, the better it is for the defendant.

"The fact that this jury is so adamant about not reaching a verdict, it is extremely unlikely that they will ever reach a verdict," said Patterson. "So yes, Burrell Ellis should be feeling really, really good at this point."

A scheduling conflict for one juror will delay the eighth day of deliberations. The jury will return at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.

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