GREENSBURG (KDKA) — A dramatic turn of events Friday in the corruption trial of Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held.
It appeared the jury reached a guilty verdict on two counts, but when jurors were polled individually in the courtroom, the sixth juror polled said he disagreed with the guilty verdict.
The judge asked jurors to deliberate some more, but after they came back unable to reach a consensus, the judge declared a mistrial.
“It’s very rare. It’s as if lighting struck twice in the same place,” said Defense Attorney Ryan Tutera, who’s representing Sheriff Held.
Tutera said he didn’t believe the verdict could be accurate, so he asked to have the jurors polled.
“If we wouldn’t have asked, that man would have walked out of here. We never would have known,” Tutera said. “People would have said he was guilty and that’s not justice.”
When asked about the hold out juror’s courtroom revelation, Deputy District Attorney Bobbi Jo Wagner said: “You have to respect the juror for listening to the judge’s instructions, doing exactly what the judge told them to do.”
Held was accused of using staff to do work for his campaign while on the clock. Prosecutors also maintain Held would punish those who did not help out with punitive, unpopular duties.
On Friday, after hearing all of the prosecution’s evidence, the judge dismissed a theft charge that had been brought against the sheriff because the prosecution did not prove it occurred.
The defense then rested without calling any witnesses.
Prosecutors have 90 days to decide if they’ll seek a retrial.