A juror deliberating in the case of four men accused of trying to bomb New York synagogues and shoot down military aircraft found a transcript of a recorded phone conversation that hadn’t been accepted as evidence.
The jurors, before they were sent home for the weekend, told U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in individual interviews conducted in the Manhattan courtroom yesterday that they were looking at a transcript of a recording of another telephone conversation when one of them found the three-page transcript, which wasn’t in any of the other jurors’ binders.
The female juror who found the document said she read part of the transcript and that it appeared to be from an audio recording of a phone call between one of the defendants, David Williams, and his father.
Williams, 29, James Cromitie, 44, Onta Williams, 34, and Laguerre Payen, 29, all of Newburgh, New York, are accused of planning to bomb a synagogue and a Jewish community center in the Bronx and fire heat-seeking Stinger missiles at military planes at Stewart International Airport. The charges against the four include conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction in the U.S, and they face as long as life in prison if convicted.
The recording to which the transcript refers, which was made while Williams was in jail following his arrest, is “utterly, completely and totally inadmissible,” McMahon said while jurors weren’t present. She asked prosecutors and defense attorneys to submit written arguments over the weekend.
“Someone has made a pretty inexcusable error, but we don’t know how bad an error it is,” McMahon said.
At least two other jurors said they read part of the transcript before the jury decided to send a note to McMahon. The jurors are scheduled to resume deliberations in the trial on Oct. 12, as the court is closed Oct. 11 for the U.S. Columbus Day holiday. The trial began Aug. 23 in federal court in Manhattan, and jurors got the case on Oct. 6.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin, the lead prosecutor on the case, declined to comment on yesterday’s proceedings.
Defense attorneys for three of the four defendants didn’t immediately return messages from Bloomberg News. Sam Braverman, an attorney representing defendant Laguerre Payen, declined to comment following yesterday’s proceedings.
The case is U.S. v. Cromitie, 09-cr-00558, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).