Buju Banton jury ‘split,’ seeks direction from judge

Elaine Silvestrini from the Tampa Tribune has the latest on the trial.

Jurors in the Buju Banton federal drug trial are having trouble reaching a verdict.

After about an hour of discussion on what has been their third day of deliberation, jurors sent a note to U.S. District Judge James Moody telling him about their difficulties. “Just for informational purposes,” the note said, “we are still split on a decision and after reviewing evidence, nobody has changed their minds from our original vote on Thursday.”

The case went to the jury Thursday after closing arguments in a four-day trial. Jurors were allowed to go home for the weekend.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, has been held without bail since his arrest in December on federal drug and weapons charges. The defense maintains Banton, 37, was entrapped. The government is using evidence of conversations Banton had with an informant.

The Jamaican reggae musician has been nominated for four Grammys. His next album is scheduled to be released Tuesday, regardless of the outcome of the trial.

In the jury note to the judge, the forewoman added, “We will continue to discuss, but I don’t know if we will get to a final decision. We don’t feel we are progressing, so can you provide further instruction.”

Outside the presence of the panel, Moody denied a motion by defense attorney David Oscar Markus that he declare a mistrial.

The judge read jurors a standard instruction telling them to keep trying.

“This is an important case. The trial has been expensive in terms of time, effort and money. … There’s no reason to believe the case can be tried again, better or more exhaustively by either side,” Moody said.

The panel deliberated about another two hours before breaking for lunch.

For the original report go to http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/sep/27/271243/buju-banton-jury-having-trouble-reaching-a-verdict/news-breaking/

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