Judge sets tentative date for new corruption trial - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

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Judge sets tentative date for new corruption trial

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The federal judge who presided over Alabama's gambling corruption trial Monday set a new, tentative date for a retrial.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson set October 3, 2011 as the date to begin the trial regarding the verdicts declared as "mistrials" last Thursday.

There is the potential for three separate trials according to Jim Parkman, the attorney for defendant and state senator Harri Anne Smith. Parkman says the trials could be split with Milton McGregor and Ray Crosby being tried together. Sen. Smith could be tried on her own. The remaining four defendants - Larry Means, Jim Preuitt, Jr., Jay Walker, Jr., and Thomas Coker - could all being tried together.

The split trials decision has not yet been made.

Judge Thompson set the tentative date in a conference call with defense and prosecution attorneys.

Jim Parkman, lead attorney for State Sen. Harri Anne Smith (I - Slocomb), says he is opposed to the notion of separate trials, especially after the court denied his motions to sever earlier in the year.

"Our view is that the court should deny any type of severance by the government like it did for us and let's all try it together just like we did before except it ought to be easier for the government now because there's two less" Parkman said. "Let's just go ahead and do it at whatever time the court says and put everybody together would be my viewpoint."

Parkman continued and said he actually feels the defense has the upper hand in the retrial since it only called one witness during the initial ten week trial, leaving the government in the dark as to its defense strategy.

"I certainly wouldn't do the same thing again that I did and second, we didn't put on any evidence yet, so second time around you know depending on what happens we may put on a case and we were prepared to put on a case" Parkman said.

Former Assistant US Attorney Al Agricola weighed in and said the multi-trial strategy could be a good one for federal prosecutors. Agricola served in the Middle District of Alabama from 1987-1989.

Agricola said "They may believe that by proceeding against a smaller number of defendants in each trial that it'll be more manageable for them and presentable and easier for the jury to understand."

"The government's obligation is not obtain convictions. The government's obligation is to seek and obtain justice. It's a mistake I believe for us to view this as a loss for the government" Agricola said. "The government did not lose. The government does not lose cases when it takes criminal cases to trial. The government obtains justice and if that's a not guilty verdict then so be it."

He also pointed out however that the Federal Government doesn't view locking up guilty verdicts as its primary motivation. Agricola indicated that the goal of the Department of Justice isn't simply to put on criminal trials with the intention of putting people in prison.

The 10-week-long trial ended Thursday with the jury clearing two of the defendants. The panel issued split verdicts on the other seven defendants. The jury couldn't reach a decision on some counts and returned not guilty verdicts on others.

Defense attorneys have a Wednesday morning deadline to tell Judge Thompson their positions on the possibility of individual proceedings for retrials.

 JUROR 9 TALKS OF SPLIT VERDICTS

A rural postal carrier who served as a juror in Alabama's gambling corruption trial says the panel was split 8-4 for acquittal on all but one of the unresolved charges in the case.

The jury deliberated for seven days before finding the nine defendants not guilty of most of the charges. There were 33 charges against seven defendants where the panel couldn't reach a unanimous verdict.

Juror Teresa Tolbert said in an interview Monday the tape recordings presented by prosecutors didn't back up the charges and two key prosecution witnesses -- Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley and his lobbyist, Jarrod Massey - appeared arrogant.

[READ A STATEMENT FROM TOLBERT]

She said the panel was divided 11-1 for acquittal on one charge against former Sen. Jim Preuitt.

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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