By Fanny S. Chirinos
Originally published 04:08 a.m., November 28, 2007
Updated 04:08 a.m., November 28, 2007
Canales wrote in her blog that she was 'a fly on the wall' during
Prosecutors in the USA v. Citgo trial have filed a response to Citgo's claim
that a local environmental activist tampered with the jury during deliberations
-- a sworn statement from the jury room's guard who said no one who didn't
belong entered the room.
The guard swore he knows activist Susie Canales by sight and she didn't enter
the room during the five days of deliberations, according to the government.
Citgo attorneys claim Canales tampered with the jury during the refiner's
pollution-related trial, heard between May and June, after she made comments on
her blog during the company's criminal trial for Clean Air Act violations. The
company was found guilty on two felony counts, the first criminal convictions
for a refiner under the act.
Canales wrote in her blog Aug. 17 that she was "a fly on the wall"
and wished others could have heard the jury's deliberations. She since has said
that she took creative license with the blog and she only spoke to a juror after
the conclusion of Citgo's second trial on July 17. In that bench trial, Citgo
was found guilty of violating the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Ed O. Offutt, a court security officer in the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi, said in an affidavit filed with
the court Tuesday that at no time during the trial or deliberations was there
intrusion from Canales or anyone else.
"To my knowledge, no other (security officer) who was assigned as my
relief made any report that there was an unauthorized entry or attempted
unauthorized entry into the ante room or the jury room," said Offutt, a
nine-year courthouse security guard.
U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey has ordered Canales be deposed to
investigate the accusation. Citgo is seeking a new trial, and its attorneys
hope the deposition will help.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Justice Department, who aren't representing Canales,
filed Offutt's affidavit and have said Citgo's actions are a ploy to intimidate
Canales. Sentencing is expected next month.
Contact Fanny S. Chirinos at 886-3759 or email@example.com