Trials & Litigation

Mistrial in Sears Tower Terror Case

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The so-called Liberty City 7 trial in federal court in Miami over alleged, abortive plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI buildings in other major cities has fizzled out for now.

One defendant was acquitted and the jury deadlocked concerning the other six, concluding the case with a mistrial, reports the Miami Herald, among other media outlets. They had deliberated for nine days, following a two-month trial.

The government reportedly plans to retry the case, but in the meantime the case appears to be at least something of a win for the defense. Lyglenson Lemorin, a 32-year-old Haitian immigrant who was acquitted on all four conspiracy charges against him, cried after the verdict with his attorney, Joel Defabio, and said they are ”ecstatic,” reports the Herald. He will not be immediately released from jail, however, because immigration authorities have placed a hold on him.

The case was controversial because of the amorphous nature of the accusations against the men, who were accused in an alleged terrorism conspiracy that essentially involved mostly talk and very little action on their part. The seven defendants apparently did take an oath of allegiance to al-Qaida in March 2006. But they at least arguably did so due to the encouragement of an FBI informant pretending to be a member of the global terrorist group. Named after a gritty area of Miami known as Liberty City, where they met for discussions concerning their alleged conspiracy, the Liberty City 7, some observers felt, were simply trying to con money out of the informant by going along with his talk of a terrorist plot.

Although government officials characterized it as a major terrorism prosecution when it was first announced, Deputy FBI Director John Pistole also said at that time the co-conspirators’ plans were “aspirational rather than operational.” Likewise, defense lawyers contended that the claimed conspiracy was orchestrated by FBI informants rather than originating in the minds of the defendants, according to a Reuters news story and fact box summary.

”It was a very difficult case with a lot of evidence,” says jury foreman Jeffrey Agron, a 46-year-old lawyer who works as a school principal, according to the Herald. “People see evidence in different ways. There were different takes that people had.”

In his own personal opinion, there may have been enough evidence to convict some defendants on some counts, he says.

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