Jury to restart deliberations in Menendez trial

BY Briana Vannozzi, Senior Correspondent |

There was no verdict on Thursday, and now the jury has to reset on Monday morning, starting deliberations all over again and prolonging this trial. One of the jurors was excused for a pre-planned vacation, so an alternate juror will be substituted in her place.

Adding to the drama is the fact that we haven’t heard a peep from the jury since they began their first full day of deliberations on Tuesday. That’s when they asked the judge for a section of a defense closing argument that described the definition of a senator. But, closing arguments aren’t evidence, so that request was denied.

The latest bombshell came late Thursday afternoon from the excused juror. She spoke with a few reporters before getting into her car reportedly saying the jury is hung. But the defense showed her enough to say Sen. Menendez is not guilty on every count. So it sounds like trouble in the jury room, which is what most legal experts Thursday speculated.

The senator has remained patient and calm throughout the process, here’s what he said leaving the courthouse Thursday.

“I have faith when the new juror takes her seat on Monday, as I had faith from the first day of this trial, that she will join with others in finding us innocent of all the charges,” said Menendez.

Menendez and his friend, wealthy Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, face an 18-count indictment for bribery and fraud charges. Menendez also faces a false statements accusation. Each of the bribery charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years and the most serious of the charges against the men carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The government alleges that Menendez accepted free private flights and vacations in exchange for official acts on Melgen’s behalf. The defense says they’re friends.