Jurors ‘attacking’ one another in Ramsey County sex trafficking case to resume Tuesday

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2013 - 8:40 PM

 

Jurors deliberating the fate of a man charged with the sex trafficking of young girls and women hadn’t gotten far when they delivered a note Monday to Ramsey County District Judge Rosanne Nathanson, saying they had reached an impasse.

That was about 2:20 p.m., five hours into deliberations that began last Thursday afternoon, skipped Friday and resumed Monday. Nathanson sent them back into deliberations in the case against Otis D. Washington, who is representing himself in court.

The jury delivered a second note at 3:30 p.m., this one more distressing and a potential blow to the case.

“It is not possible for us to come to an agreement,” the note read in part. “It has come to people attacking each other,” and not about the case.

One juror left the deliberations room and wanted to speak with the judge. Nathanson and Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Karen Kugler both said they didn’t want to have the lone juror address his concerns with the court because it would invade the “sanctity” of the deliberation room.

Washington, 29, unsuccessfully lobbied to hear the juror. The note did not specify the reason for the discord.

“I’m very concerned,” Nathanson said.

Nathanson said the jury appeared deadlocked, but hadn’t deliberated long on the five felony counts facing Washington, who is charged alongside his brother, two uncles and his brother’s ex-girlfriend in a years-long sex trafficking ring with multiple victims.

She dismissed the jurors for the day and ordered them to return at 9 a.m. Tuesday to continue deliberations.

“You are engaged in a very challenging assignment,” Nathanson told the jury of five men and seven women.

Outside the jury’s presence, she said that she would be inclined to declare a mistrial if jurors could not overcome their struggles Tuesday.

Calvin R. Washington, 50, one of the uncles, pleaded guilty Monday to aiding and abetting sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. He testified that he drove one woman to meet men who paid for sex.

Otis Washington’s brother, Antonio D. Washington-Davis, 26, pleaded guilty in his case Monday and then rescinded — the second time he’s backed out of a plea. Washington-Davis’ plea agreement was for a little over 18 years in prison.

He pleaded guilty to all three counts against him and then told Nathanson, “I know I’m not guilty of two of them.”

The judge said she could not accept a plea if he denied responsibility. He rescinded his guilty plea after consulting with his attorney in private.

The second uncle, Robert J. Washington, 56, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708

Twitter: @ChaoStrib

 

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