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BUDD CASE After 15 hours, still no verdict



Published: Fri, February 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



One defense attorney isn't surprised by the time the jury is taking.

CLEVELAND -- Jurors remained deadlocked Thursday after 15 hours of deliberation in the federal trial of Michael J. Budd.

The former major in the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department is accused of ordering and personally carrying out inmate beatings at the county jail and then covering them up.

"We've reached an impasse and cannot reach a unanimous verdict on several of the charges," jurors wrote in a note delivered to U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells about 11 a.m. The note came after 11 hours of deliberation.

Judge Wells said to keep trying. "Sometimes after further discussion, jurors are able to work out their differences and agree," she said. The jury left the courthouse without a verdict nearly five hours later.

Budd faces one count of conspiracy and three counts of depriving inmates of their constitutional rights. Prosecutors say he beat two inmates and ordered deputies to beat another. They also accuse him of covering up the beating by demanding false reports from deputies and withholding an incriminating letter requested by federal investigators.

Jurors may not tell anyone, even the judge, which charges they disagree on or what the vote count is. If they agree on some charges but not on others, they may give a partial verdict at any time, Judge Wells said. So far, all decisions remain in the jury room.

"Now the question is the personalities" of the jurors, said defense attorney Sebastian Rucci.

The jury consists of seven women and five men, including engineers, teachers, nurses, a cellular phone company employee, a retired phone company employee, a retiree from a Fortune 500 company, a laborer and an at-home mom.

Given the jurors' professions, Rucci isn't surprised by the time they're taking.

"There seem to be a lot of technical, meticulous minds in there," he said.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the case. It has been left up to the jurors whether they work beyond regular office hours. Budd's jury has left at 4:30 p.m. every day since they began deliberating Tuesday.

"We're just praying," said Tracy Snochowski, Budd's mother, who waited in the courthouse cafeteria all day Thursday. She and other relatives read newspapers, played cards and reflected on the weeklong trial.

"It's stressful," she said. "You just can't try to guess anything."




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