Jurors Deadlock in 6 of 7 Defendants in Plot to Destroy Sears Tower
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In a stinging defeat for the Bush administration, one of seven Miami men accused of plotting to join forces with Al Qaeda to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower was acquitted Thursday, and the case against the rest ended in a hung jury.
Federal prosecutor Richard Gregorie said the government planned to retry the six next year, and the judge said a new jury would be picked starting Jan. 7.
Lyglenson Lemorin, 32, had been accused of being a “soldier” for alleged ringleader Narseal Batiste. He buried his face in his hands when his acquittal was read.
Lemorin, a legal U.S. resident originally from Haiti, was subject to an immigration hold and would not be immediately released, his lawyer said.
The jury gave up on the other defendants after nine days of deliberations on four terrorism-related conspiracy charges that carry a combined maximum of 70 years in prison. The jury twice sent notes to the judge indicating they could not reach verdicts but were told to keep trying.
Prosecutors said the “Liberty City Seven” — so-named because they operated out of a warehouse in Miami’s blighted Liberty City section — swore allegiance to al-Qaida and hoped to forge an alliance to carry out bombings against America’s tallest skyscraper, the FBI’s Miami office and other federal buildings.
Outside the courtroom, jury foreman Jeff Agron said the group took four votes but was split roughly evenly between guilt and innocence for the other six men. They spent hours viewing and listening to FBI recordings of meetings and conversations involving Batiste and the others, he said.
The Liberty City Seven, who included immigrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic, adhered to a sect called the Moorish Science Temple that blends elements of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
One key piece of evidence was a video of the seven men taking an oath of loyalty to Al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden in a March 2006 ceremony.
’Liberty 7’ jury — artist’s rendering.
(Posted on December 14, 2007)