Judge declares mistrial in Burrell Ellis case - CBS46 News

Judge declares mistrial in Burrell Ellis case

Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

The corruption trial for Burrell Ellis ended in a mistrial Tuesday afternoon. Judge Courtney L. Johnson made the ruling after the jury deadlocked and was unable to come to a unanimous decision on the 13 counts Ellis faced.

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

The 12-woman jury sent the judge a note just before 4 p.m. that said they remained deadlocked, despite their best efforts to reach a verdict.

Ellis left the courthouse after the mistrial was declared but could not comment, as both sides remain under a gag order.

The jury deadlock did not come as a surprise to some court observers after reports of conflict among them surfaced and notes were repeatedly sent to the judge about their inability to reach a consensus.

"This is designed to be a difficult process," said J. Thomas Salata, a defense attorney. "This is designed to have people struggle over the correct answer, the right verdict. It's like a hockey match, very low score but they're going back and forth to get to the right decision."

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

"Those people who said he was not guilty, there's no way on this earth they were ever going to change their mind," said Jackie Patterson, a defense attorney.

The district attorney must now decide if he will re-try Ellis on the same charges, on new charges or drop the case all together.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.