PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Former jurors are talking about the mistrial declared in the corruption case of state Sen. Jane Orie.
Jurors were sent home Thursday after the judge and a handwriting expert determined that some documents submitted by the defense had been doctored. It was decided that the signature of a major prosecution witness had been copied and pasted on to documents.
At issue were documents signed by former chief of staff Jamie Pavlot. The defense presented the documents in their case; but two documents purported to have her signature appear to have been cut and pasted from an original from 2004.
Several of the jurors spoke to our news partners, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, after they were dismissed from duty.
One told the PG that they never had time to actually debate whether the Orie sisters were or were not guilty.
“It took so long, we listened to so much, and we got, what, a day and a half to talk about it?” said the unidentified juror.
Another told the PG, “We were just venting. There was just mountains and mountains of evidence. It was just massive.”
Another talked about how the judge told them of the mistrial, “He brought the documentation up and he explained to us, “This is what it was… I can’t just say disregard this one document because it would throw everything else into question.”
Defense attorney Bill Costopoulos told the judge they were not to blame for the documents, but could say very little to reporters outside the courtroom.
“I did want the gag ordered lifted. It has not been lifted. I am going to honor that order, but I said what I said in court and I meant what I said in court, and I’m going to go with what I said in court,” said Costopoulos.
The jury foreman told the Post-Gazette that jurors questioned some of the evidence from the defense even before the judge declared the mistrial.
Charles King, told the PG, “There was too much doubt over whether it was forged or not. That was a lot of what we were deliberating. There was an overwhelming amount of evidence and it was hard deciding what was truthful and what wasn’t.”
No date has been set for the next trial.