Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Megahed jury loses an hour over comment made about Mohamed

TAMPA — The jury in the Youssef Megahed explosives trial was forced to pause in its deliberations after a juror said something he shouldn't have on Thursday.

It pushed the defense to call for a mistrial. A compromise cleared things up. By the end of the day, after almost 16 hours over three days, they still hadn't reached a verdict.

Just a half hour into their morning, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday ordered a halt after the jury foreman told him a juror had told the panel that Ahmed Mohamed, the fellow University of South Florida student arrested with Megahed, had received a 15-year sentence.

Mohamed pleaded guilty in December. Mention of his case was excluded in the trial of Megahed, who was accused of the illegal transport of explosive materials and a destructive device.

"Based on that statement, the jury has now been exposed to information detrimental to Mr. Megahed, and we would move for a mistrial," Assistant Federal Public Defender Dionja Dyer said.

The judge asked whether she had thought about it carefully or was just putting it into the court record. He made her reconsider since many jurors admitted during pre-trial questioning that they had prior knowledge of Mohamed's case.

Before Megahed and his attorneys could seriously debate their request, the judge called the jury foreman in to investigate.

He asked him which juror made the statement and then called that man in. The judge asked him when he learned of Mohamed's sentencing. If he had learned after the jury was sequestered, that would have been a problem.

"Before the case, sir,'' said the juror. "I'd say a year ago.''

The judge sent him back.

Merryday told attorneys he leaned toward telling the jury to disregard the comment.

Public defender Adam Allen wanted the judge to ask the juror if he could consider Megahed's case on its own merits.

"He's already told me he can do that," Merryday said, referring to pre-trial questioning.

Federal prosecutor Robert Monk said he didn't want jurors feeling as if they were being cross-examined.

The judge decided to respond in writing, reminding the jury to stick to the facts of the case.

The defense withdrew its motion, and the jury went back to deliberations after an hour.

They made one other request later: 10 copies of jury instructions and a judge's clarification.

Megahed jury loses an hour over comment made about Mohamed 04/02/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 3, 2009 12:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.