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Lodi mistrial after fbi has no proof of terror ties { April 25 2006 }

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Mistrial Declared in Lodi Terrorism Case
By Rone Tempest
Times Staff Writer

11:48 AM PDT, April 25, 2006

SACRAMENTO A federal judge today declared a mistrial in the terrorism case against a Lodi ice cream truck driver, who was charged with lying to FBI agents about whether his son attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

The jury of eight women and four men, which deliberated nearly eight days, could not reach a verdict in Umer Hayat's case.

Prosecutors asked for two weeks to consider whether to retry Hayat, 48.

The jury for the son, Hamid Hayat, continued its deliberations this morning.

Hamid, 23, is charged with providing material support to terrorists by attending a training camp in Pakistan in 2003. He is also charged with lying to federal agents when they interrogated him.

The defense argued that the government failed to prove that the younger Hayat went to such a camp and that, even if he had, it would have been more like a Baptist summer camp than a school for suicide bombers.

After deliberating a little more than an hour today, the Umer Hayat jury sent a note to U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell stating they were "decisively deadlocked."

Escorted out the back of the federal courthouse by federal marshals, most jurors declined to speak to reporters. Jury forewoman Debra Kiriu of Woodbridge, a small community outside Lodi, said only, "It was split. I have nothing more to say."

Another woman juror walking beside her was in tears.

Defense attorney Johnny L. Griffin said he was "very pleased that the jury did not find our client guilty. Our position from day one was that Umer Hayat was not a terrorist."

He also told reporters that his impression was that the jury was evenly split.

The government was not insistent that it would retry Hayat. Prosecutors agreed to a bail hearing on Friday and a status hearing on the case in two weeks.

"I urge the government to strongly re-evaluate their case. There is no reason for this man to spend another day in jail," Griffin said. "The government in my view put its best foot forward and failed."

Although the government had originally asked the judge to seal the decision of the first jury, it withdrew that request this morning under questioning from the judge. Asked what Hayat said in response to the mistrial, Griffin said Hayat told him that he wants to go home.

It was a case that roiled this small community with its 2,500 Pakistani Americans. Taj Khan, a community leader, said most of the Pakistani-Americans feel the father and son were innocent in the case that federal agents initially presented as a terrorist sleeper cell operating in California's agricultural heartland.

The Lodi case was recently cited by U.S. intelligence chief John D. Negroponte as an example of a "home-grown jihadist cell."

It is one of the first U.S. prosecutions to focus on a terrorism training camp in Pakistan, a key U.S. ally. Most "material support of terrorism" allegations have centered on Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.

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