New York

No Verdict After 3rd Day of Jury Deliberations in George Washington Bridge Lane-Closing Trial

Jurors finished a third day of deliberations in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial Wednesday without reaching a verdict. 

Bridget Kelly, Republican Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive Bill Baroni are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, civil rights violations and misusing the bridge to retaliate against a Democratic mayor by causing traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee. 

They testified during the trial that they thought the closure of access lanes was part of a traffic study concocted by former Port Authority official David Wildstein, who has pleaded guilty. Wildstein testified that both defendants were aware of the plan to punish Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie's re-election bid. 

On Tuesday, jurors asked the judge if they could convict the defendants of causing the traffic jams if they acquitted them of the conspiracy count — and vice versa — and if they needed to reach a verdict on the top conspiracy count before moving on to the other counts. 

U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton said she would tell them each count could be considered individually. 

They also asked if they could convict the defendants of conspiracy if the lane closures were not meant to punish the mayor. That was a point of bitter contention between defense attorneys and prosecutors, with lawyers for Kelly and Baroni arguing last week that jurors should be told that if the government did not prove the defendants took part in a retaliation plot, they could find them not guilty. 

Wigenton disagreed, ruling that motive was not an element that had to be proved by the government. 

That led to Kelly's attorney, Michael Critchley, accusing the judge of "directing a verdict of guilty." 

Deliberations began Monday afternoon and were scheduled to resume Thursday morning.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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