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Juror in D.C. murder trial says she feels ‘pressure’ to change views

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Defense attorneys in the trial of five men charged in a series of deadly shootings in the District two years ago requested a mistrial after one of the jurors sent the judge a note requesting her release from deliberations because she was feeling “pressure” to change her views.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna L. Beck immediately denied the attorneys’ request. She also refused to release the jury and encouraged the jurors to continue deliberating.

“I am not going to dismiss the juror because of a disagreement,” Beck said.

The jury has been deliberating for more than seven days in the trial of the five Southeast Washington men charged with murder in the deaths of five people in a series of March 2010 shootings. The trial began in February, and prosecutors laid out thousands of pieces of evidence and called more than 100 witnesses.

The juror’s note alarmed attorneys for the five defendants, who face more than 200 counts, including multiple first-degree murder charges. The note did not detail what the disagreement was about.

Arthur Ago, defense attorney for 21-year-old Sanquan Carter, said the juror’s letter was a “cry for help” illustrating that she did not want to make a decision but was being pressured by the other jurors to do so. Ago said he was concerned that the juror might be “coerced” by the other jurors into reaching a verdict.

Also charged in the case are Sanquan’s brother Orlando, 22; Jeffrey D. Best, 23; Robert Bost, 23; and Lamar Williams, 23.

Beck said that she plans to read the jurors a statement encouraging them to continue deliberating — doing so using the facts of the case, not emotion — when they resume deliberations Friday.

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