NEWARK — A juror excused Thursday from the deliberations in the bribery trial of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) predicted the panel will end deadlocked without a verdict.
"I think it's going to be a hung jury,'' Juror No. 8, Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, told FIOS1 News as she left the courthouse. She was dismissed as a juror due to a long-standing promise the judge in the case had made at the start of the trial that she would still be able to go on a long-planned vacation trip.
As she left the case, she offered an inside glimpse of a jury divided on many of the issues in the corruption trial. But she was adamant that prosecutors had not convinced her that the senator had done anything illegal.
"I feel like the government was very corrupted, not that Menendez was,'' said Arroyo-Maultsby. "What I saw, the government didn't give me enough. So I think the defense showed me enough to say he's not guilty on every count.''
Menendez is accused of engaging in a corrupt bargain with Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen. Prosecutors say the senator took gifts like a luxury hotel stay, private flights and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Melgen, and in return Menendez acted as the doctor's "personal senator,'' advocating on his behalf on various government matters.
"What I saw in the courtroom was he was not guilty on all counts and so was Dr. Melgen," the departing juror said. "They are friends. If I was rich and if I had a lot of money and I want to take my friend somewhere, why can't I?"
After nine weeks of testimony and legal arguments, the jury has deliberated over three days. Arroyo-Maultsby told FIOS1 News the panel has been working through the 18 counts in the indictment, but there are significant disagreements among the jurors.
She said other jurors also want to vote not guilty on some counts, "but I'm the only one that's held out that he's not guilty on every single charge.''
The jurors will resume deliberations on Monday.