John Travolta's extortion case has been declared a mistrial after one jury member in the Bahamas reportedly leaked a verdict to politicians.
Justice Anita Allen released the nine-member jury hours after deliberations began on Wednesday (21Oct09) and declared a mistrial after learning that a member of Parliament had announced to the media at a political convention that defendant Pleasant Bridgewater had been acquitted.
Bridgewater, a former Bahamas senator, and paramedic Tarino Lightbourne were facing charges of conspiracy to extort $25 million (£17.2 million) from Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston after their 16-year-old son Jett suffered a fatal seizure at the family's holiday home in January (09).
The accused reportedly threatened to release a Refusal of Treatment/Transportation form, which Travolta signed after requesting paramedics drive his son to the airport. He initially believed it would be faster to fly the 16 year old to a hospital in Florida for treatment, but subsequently changed his mind.
Bridgewater and Lightbourne, who both pleaded not guilty, supposedly planned to leak the document to the press, suggesting Travolta's actions delayed treatment for his son.
It is unclear whether a verdict had actually been reached in the case against either Bridgewater or Lightbourne before Justice Allen declared a mistrial.
During closing arguments in a Nassau courtroom on Tuesday (20Oct09), Lightbourne's lawyer Carlson Shurland maintained his client had been "cornered" by Travolta's legal team, who feigned interest in buying the document at the centre of the trial, claiming the paramedic was the real "victim" in the case.
Meanwhile Bridgewater's attorney Murrio Ducille urged the jurors to "set my people free", painting Travolta's lawyer Michael MCDermott as a "devious and cunning" man who sought to set the defendants up and had "evil in his heart".
A retrial date is yet to be announced.