Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca’s corruption trial ended after jurors said they were deadlocked when all but one were in favor of acquittal. The judge declared a mistrial, and now Baca is free pending the prosecution’s decision to retry him.
After four days of deliberation, the corruption case against former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca ended in a mistrial. The 73-year-old was tried on charges of conspiring to commit, and committing, obstruction of justice from August to September 2011 and faced up to 20 years in jail.
The six men and six women that made up the jury were all but ready to acquit Baca, except for one holdout who could not explain why he did not believe Baca deserved to be acquitted, according to KABC.
“There was definitely no smoking gun there for us,” said one juror.
After the judge’s ruling, Baca praised the jurors for their decision outside the courthouse telling reporters, “this is what America thrives on, is jurors that really care and aren’t caught up in negativity that may come to their thoughts and they’re going to give people a chance to be heard by them.”
Baca had initially pleaded guilty to a one felony count of lying to the FBI after learning that one of his officers had confronted and threatened to arrest an FBI agent. The confrontation was, according to prosecutors, the result of Baca learning the FBI had been secretly probing allegations of excessive force and civil rights abuses in jails managed by the sheriff’s department.
The former sheriff’s days in court are not over, however. He still must return for a second trial over charges of making false statements to federal investigators in 2013. In addition, prosecutors have not indicated whether they will seek to retry him.