By Shirley N Lew
AsAmNews New York Correspondent
Judge Danny Chun today refused to grant a motion for a mistrial in the manslaughter conviction of ex-NYPD officer Peter Liang.
Chun felt there was no juror misconduct by juror Michael Vargas
Vargas answered “No, no” when he was asked if he had any close relatives that were convicted of a crime during jury selection for Liang’s trial. His father was convicted of manslaughter, but Vargas said he didn’t know the details since it happened when he was very young. His father is deceased.
“His ability to answer questions was not someone who was at the top level of intelligence and is conceivable that he thinks his father is not close,” the judge said speaking about Vargas. “If Vargas did not think of his father as close, then there is no misconduct.”
Most of the cross examination in the last two days included many posts and comments from Vargas’ Facebook page. Gary Schectman, Liang’s lawyer, used them to portray Vargas as a police hater, while the prosecutor used them to show Vargas’ empathetic side to the police.
“Obviously we are very disappointed at Judge Chun’s decision to deny the motion to overturn the verdict, said Senior Executive Director of Free Masons, Karlin Chan, a huge supporter for Liang. He started a trust fund for Liang almost two months ago. “I thought there was sufficient evidence there where Vargas was ducking questions and not forthcoming with his answers. There’s always the appeals court now. I guess Chun didn’t want to bear the responsibility creating possible riots or what not.”
Liang accidentally killed Akai Gurley during a vertical patrol in housing complex in 2014 when a bullet from his gun ricochet off a wall striking Gurley in a dark stair case. Liang’s partner Shaun Landau was not on trial, but was fired from the NYPD.
Liang’s sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 19 at 2:30pm. Whether Chun decides to accept Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s recommendation of five years probation, six months house arrest and 500 hours of community service instead of jail time for Liang, we’ll have to wait and see.
There were more supporters for Liang than Gurley in the courthouse. Some of those supporting Gurley were seen outside shouting after the hearing “April 19, April 19!”
What are your thoughts on Judge Danny Chun’s remarks on Vargas’ intelligence which he believes caused no misconduct?
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