The New York jury considering racketeering charges against John "Junior" Gotti for more than a week told a judge Thursday that it was unable to agree on a verdict. But the federal judge told them to keeping working.
Federal Judge Kevin Castel, who is presiding over the trial in Manhattan federal court, told the panel of eight men and four women to keep deliberating until it reaches a unanimous verdict.
"Please remember you are not partisans, you are judges -- judges of the facts, " Castel told the jury.
Castel spoke after receiving a short note from the jury that read: "At this time we are unable to reach a unanimous verdict on counts 1, 2 and 3."
A later note from the panel then asked specifically about the counts which charge Gotti with ordering drug related homicide -- and whether the government had met its burden of proof.
The note read: "Regarding 2 and 3, if the jury cannot agree unanimously, that the government has met its burden on the first element (i.e. that there was a conspiracy), does the jury need to consider any of the last three elements of counts two and three (as indicated on page 93 of instructions) or should each juror consider independently all four elements?"
Court observers were somewhat perplexed by the wording of the note, and even Castel commented, "I'm not sure Iunderstand their note."
Eventually Castel told the jurors that they could go home, instructing them "not to think about the case and relax." The jury has the day off Friday and will return on Monday.
The trial is the fourth time prosecutors have sought a conviction against Gotti. Three previous trials ended in hung
juries in 2005 and 2006.
In the latest case, the government alleged that Gotti was involved in a string of murders in the 1980s and 1990s as well as drug trafficking. He has denied the charges, claiming he quit the mob more than a decade ago. His father died in prison while serving a life term for his 1992 murder and racketeering conviction.