Judge declares mistrial in John Travolta extortion case
Things are slow in island time, so we'll use that as the reason why nobody heard Bahamian judge Anita Allen declare a mistrial in the John Travolta extortion case late Wednesday night. The reason? Somebody spilled the beans that former Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater was acquitted.
Jurors were still deliberating when lawmaker Picewell Forbes announced to an audience at a Progressive Liberal Party convention that party member Bridgewater would be cleared, the AP reports.
"Pleasant is a free woman, PLPs! God is good, PLPs! Pleasant is a free woman!" Forbes said, prompting cheers from the crowd. Later on, the party's deputy chairman-elect, Alex Storr, said Forbes had misspoken and apologized, but it was too late.
Allen said she had to dismiss the jurors, who had been deliberating for nine hours and had just listened to a month of testimony about Bridgewater and ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne. Allen cited the appearance of an improper leak in the courtroom. To review, the pair are accused of demanding $25 million from Travolta to keep them from releasing private information about the death of Travolta's 16-year-old son, Jett.
"This came out of the clear blue; this was so weird," Mike Ossi, one of Travolta’s lawyers from Florida (and a prosecution witness) told People. Ossi said trouble started when a cop heard the news on TV: "The police officer said, 'It looks like Pleasant got off.' "
There's no indication of when a new trial would start, but Bahamas chief magistrate Roger Gomez said early 2010 is likely.
[Photo: Travolta and Kelly Preston at the courthouse on Sept. 23. AP]