Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Judge orders search of juror's computer drive in Buju Banton case

TAMPA — A juror accused of conducting improper research during the 2011 federal drug trial of reggae star Buju Banton will have her computer hard drive searched by a defense expert, a judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge James Moody said at a hearing that he would issue an order prohibiting the expert from releasing to attorneys any information unrelated to the allegation that the juror conducted Internet research about Banton's case.

The juror, Moody said, "is entitled to safeguards."

Moody did so after the juror's attorney raised privacy concerns, noting that the juror's tax returns and her son's college applications also are on the hard drive.

The juror, Terri Wright of Tampa, told a reporter for the Miami New Times in an interview last year that she conducted research about the case during Banton's trial. That would have violated a judge's instructions.

Wright is quoted in the article as saying, "I would get in the car, just write my notes down so I could remember, and I would come home and do the research."

That, Banton's attorneys argue, is grounds to throw out his conviction and grant a new trial.

But Wright, forewoman of the jury that convicted Banton, has testified that the reporter misunderstood her and that the research took place after the trial's conclusion. A recording of the interview, played at a previous hearing, appeared to show Wright was quoted accurately.

Banton, 39, is serving a 10-year prison sentence after jurors convicted him of trying to set up a deal to buy 11 pounds of cocaine. He faces an additional five years in prison when he is eventually resentenced after prosecutors successfully appealed Moody's dismissal of one charge.

Attorneys have questioned all members of Banton's jury, including eight during Tuesday's hearing. Of the 11 other jurors besides Wright, 10 said they heard nothing during the trial indicating one among them conducted improper research.

One juror said she heard someone discuss research, but she said the juror who did so was a white woman. Wright is black.

Wright's attorney, Lori Palmieri, objected to Wright's hard drive being searched at all. Palmieri said there was no evidence Wright violated Moody's instructions.

And Palmieri said that even if the hard drive examination reveals a computer search about Banton, it won't show who conducted the search. The attorney noted the computer also is used by Wright's husband and 16-year-old son.

In January, Moody took the rare step of ordering a U.S. marshal to seize Wright's computer after defense attorneys referred to the Miami New Times story and asked for a new trial. Moody rescinded the order after prosecutor James Preston raised due process and privacy concerns.

The judge instead told Wright to bring the hard drive to court for Tuesday's hearing and allowed Wright to have an attorney represent her interests.

Comments
The Daystarter: Lightning put it all on the line in Game 7; read our review of Kendrick Lamar; and something is brewing in the gulf.

The Daystarter: Lightning put it all on the line in Game 7; read our review of Kendrick Lamar; and something is brewing in the gulf.

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• The forecast calls for partly sunny weather with scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms mainly in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. The chance of rain is...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality

Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality

Who is the most compelling personality in Lightning-Capitals Game 7?We asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for their answer. Who's yours? Please share in the comments section and feel free to take issue with our answers.JOIN the Lightning Strike...
Updated: 4 hours ago
FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

A woman state authorities say was scammed out of $480,000 by two of her employees is an heiress to the Wrigley chewing gum fortune.The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Tuesday that the victim in the case is Helen Rich, 69, formerly Hel...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Shopping Tampa for Ukraine commandos: Bomb-sniffers, drones and laser-proof sniper scopes

Shopping Tampa for Ukraine commandos: Bomb-sniffers, drones and laser-proof sniper scopes

TAMPA — Like a homeowner combing Home Depot for his latest project, Roman Mashovets spent a good part of Tuesday wandering the floor at the Tampa Convention Center.But instead of nails and plywood, Mashovets — a former Ukraine special operations forc...
Updated: 10 hours ago
At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

TAMPA — The name of the new Bay 3 co-working space at the Armature Works goes back to World War I, when the red-brick warehouse overlooking the Hillsborough River was the maintenance barn for Tampa Electric’s streetcar system.As the name suggests, it...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

In a scene repeated at public buildings across the country, the American flag in front of the library outside my office window was lowered to half-staff this week.This time for 10 dead in Texas.In February, the American flag was similarly half-staff ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

Fortunate Son, one of the most scathing protest songs from the Vietnam War era. Writing another one with that kind of impact has been a challenge ever since."Back in the ’80s, I had a couple of songs that kind of fell on deaf ears. I said, Well, I gu...
Published: 05/23/18
Admiral Farragut’s grit brings state softball glory

Admiral Farragut’s grit brings state softball glory

VERO BEACH — It was only natural to think of Admiral Farragut’s state title chances more in terms of the future. After all, the roster consists of zero seniors and just two juniors. The rest are sophomores, freshmen and middle-schoolers. Because of t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
The key stat for Lightning-Capitals Game 7? Score first

The key stat for Lightning-Capitals Game 7? Score first

As the Lightning and Capitals prepare for their series finale Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, here's a by-the-numbers look at each team's Game 7 history.5-2The Lightning's record in Game 7s. It has never lost at home (3-0).+5The Lightning's...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays loss to Red Sox

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays loss to Red Sox

Marc Topkin's takeaways from Rays 4-2 loss to Red Sox on Tuesday:* The Rays record against a Red Sox team they consider a measuring stick doesn't look very good at 3-8. But, as manager Kevin Cash and several players pointed out, there is some consola...
Updated: 6 hours ago