NEWARK – Speaking just minutes after she was excused today from the jury deliberating Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption case, a former juror blasted the prosecution, said the senator did not do “anything wrong,” and predicted the case is headed for a hung jury.
Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, who was excused so she could go on a long-planned vacation to the Bahamas starting tomorrow, said prosecutors had not established their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and several jurors agreed with her during the four days of deliberations. Arroyo-Maultsby said she was swayed the gifts of private jet travel, vacations and campaign donations to Menendez from Dr. Salomon Melgen were motivated by friendship and were not bribes.
“What I saw in the courtroom was that he was not guilty on all counts,” she said. “And so was Dr. Melgen. They are friends. And if I was rich and I had a lot of money, and if I want to take my friend somewhere, why can’t I?”
As of this afternoon, she said the majority of jurors still believed Menendez and Melgan are not guilty However, at least one person inside the jury room is convinced of Menendez’s guilt, she said, and this person is recruiting jurors to change their votes. Two have flipped from the not guilty camp to the guilty faction since the first straw poll taken Monday afternoon, Arroyo-Maultsby said.
She did not identify the person advocating to find Menendez guilty, but said it is not the jury foreman.
“There’s trouble in the jury room,” she said. “It looks like a hung jury.”
In fact, Arroyo-Maultsby said she tried to convince her fellow jurors to say so today, but was rebuffed.
“I told them that they’re holding back on what I want to say, and we should go and let the judge know how we feel,” Arroyo-Maultsby said. “And they didn’t want to.”
Arroyo-Maultsby said she developed her strong belief that Menendez and Melgen should be acquitted by listening to the arguments during the trial.
“I already was in the courtroom for nine weeks,” she said. “And those nine weeks, they presented everything they had to present. I didn’t fall asleep, I paid attention and I wrote my notes.”
“I don’t think the prosecutor gave me enough,” she said. “They didn’t give me enough evidence, they held too much stuff behind…I just didn’t see it.”
Arroyo-Maultsby was replaced by an alternate juror this afternoon, and the jury dismissed for the weekend immediately afterward. When they reconvene Monday, Judge William Walls has instructed the 11 original jurors and the one former alternate to restart deliberations from the beginning.
“I didn’t like this experience,” Arroyo-Maultsby said. “I just feel the unfairness and the way they presented it. To me, the government, talking about him being corrupt, I think the government was corrupt at this time.”
“I think the government was the crooked one, not Menendez,” she said.