Terrorism Case Ends In Mistrial; 1 Acquitted

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By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 14, 2007

MIAMI, Dec. 13 -- A federal judge declared a mistrial for six men from a fringe religious group here after a jury said it was deadlocked on charges that they conspired to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and instigate a war against the United States.

A seventh man, Lyglenson Lemorin, 32, was cleared of all charges.

The outcome was a setback to prosecutors in a case that Justice Department officials said reflected the threat posed by "homegrown terrorists" who they said could mount attacks as deadly as those of Sept. 11, 2001.

But evidence presented at the trial portrayed the "Liberty City Seven" as a group of somewhat hapless low-income laborers, and defense attorneys said the men had become ensnared in what they characterized as an overzealous FBI investigation.

"It was evenly split on a lot of counts," said jury foreman Jeff Agron, 46, an educator at a local synagogue. "You wish you could reach a decision -- but it is what it is."

The U.S. Attorney's Office issued a one-sentence statement indicating only that the case will be retried.

As the decisions were announced, the men showed little emotion. Some frowned.

The acquitted man, Lemorin, cried and buried his head in his hands after the verdict.

"He was ecstatic," said his attorney, Joel DeFabio.

Lemorin will not be immediately released, however. He is a Haitian immigrant, and authorities have placed an "immigration hold" on him.

Two months before the June 2006 arrests in the case, Lemorin had apparently quit the Liberty City group and moved to Atlanta, working in a mall.

Jurors acquitted him because "there was evidence that he was distancing himself from the group," Agron said.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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