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Juror claims pressure to convict terror suspect

A juror said in a sworn statement that she was pressured into casting the final vote to convict an American citizen of attending a Pakistani terrorist training camp.
Hamid Hayat in an undated file photo.AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

A juror said in a sworn statement that she was pressured into casting the final vote to convict a man of attending a Pakistani terrorist training camp.

The juror’s affidavit means Hamid Hayat, of Lodi, should get a new trial, attorney Wazhma Mojaddidi argued in a motion filed in federal court late Thursday.

“I was under so much stress and pressure (from the other jurors) that I agreed to change my vote,” Arcelia Lopez of Sacramento said in her statement. “I never once throughout the deliberation process and the reading of the verdict believed Hamid Hayat to be guilty.”

Prosecutors said repeatedly since Tuesday’s verdict that they don’t believe there was any improper influence on jurors, and that any pressure on Lopez was part of the normal jury deliberation process.

Though emotional, Lopez confirmed her guilty vote in open court Tuesday when all 12 jurors were questioned by presiding U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr.

“I deeply regret my decision,” Lopez said in the affidavit obtained by defense investigator and former FBI agent James Wedick.

Health problems cited
Lopez said she went to a medical clinic Saturday with a migraine headache and believed “my health and physical well-being were being affected by the pressure from the other jurors to change my vote.”

Prosecutors say Hayat, 23, should face a minimum 30 years in prison at his July 14 sentencing based on his convictions on charges he provided material support by attending the terror camp in 2003 and lying about it to FBI agents when he was questioned after he returned to the United States in May.

Hayat told agents in an hours-long videotaped statement that he was awaiting orders to carry out a religious war against targets such as banks, groceries and hospitals. Mojaddidi disputes the confession and says there is no direct proof Hayat attended the camp.

Hours before the guilty verdict against Hamid Hayat, a separate jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on whether his father, Umer Hayat, 48, also of Lodi, was guilty of lying to FBI agents about his son’s alleged terrorist training.

Prosecutors are expected to tell Burrell on Friday if they will retry the older man’s case. Burrell has set a hearing on whether Umer Hayat should be released on bail.

Both men were detained along with two Muslim religious leaders in what authorities suggested was part of a terrorist movement in Lodi, located in a grape-growing region 35 miles south of the state capital. The two imams and one man’s son were deported for immigration violations, however, and the Hayats were the only people criminally charged in the probe.