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. Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman


    State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home …

    Carlos G. Smith
  2. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  3. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  4. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion


    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  5. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.