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Orie jury at 'impasse,' but will deliberate further on Sunday

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By Bobby Kerlik
Saturday, March 24, 2012
 

An hour after sending a note to the judge saying they were at a "serious impasse" in deliberations, Allegheny County jurors deciding the fate of state Sen. Jane Orie ceased deliberations for the night and will begin again tomorrow morning.

The jury of five men and seven women has deliberated about 27 hours over three days. They left the courthouse at 8 p.m. to eat dinner and will then retire to a hotel where they have been sequestered since Thursday night.

The jury sent Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning a note at 6 p.m. saying they could not agree on a unanimous verdict. The judge told the jury to reconsider and sent them back for further deliberations. The note — which came after nine hours of deliberations Saturday — said the jury had reached a "serious impasse" in their discussions.

Juror No. 6, a man, had a red face and wiped tears from his eyes in the courtroom when the judge brought the 12 in for a meeting. During a previous break when the jurors were allowed to go outside in the courtyard, the same juror had his face in his hands as he sat on a bench.

Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, objected to the judge sending the jury back for deliberations, saying he was reluctantly asking for a mistrial.

Two jurors asked the judge questions in the courtroom. One juror asked if the jury has to agree on guilty or not guilty on every count. The judge answered they must be unanimous on every count for a conviction or an acquittal.

Another juror asked if portions of the trial transcript could be read back to them. The judge denied that request and also denied a request for a dictionary.

Orie, 50, sat at the defense table, looking at the jury as members asked questions. The McCandless Republican is facing 24 charges stemming from two cases.

She is accused of directing her state-paid staff to do political work on state time for her and her sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, 55, of Marshall.

The senator is also accused of forging evidence that led to a mistrial during her first trial last March.

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