DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A DeKalb County judge has declared a mistrial after 11 days of deliberation in the corruption case of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.
Channel 2’s Erica Byfield was in the courtroom when DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson made the announcement. Byfield says Ellis did not have a visible reaction to the news.
Byfield broke the news on Twitter.
Minutes later, Ellis left the courtroom, telling the media he could not speak about the trial or the decision because there is still a gag order in place.
Early Tuesday, when Johnson found out the jury was deadlocked for the fourth time, she sent back a note asking how the jurors were split on each count.
On Monday, Johnson sent the jurors a note asking if they had been able to reach a verdict on any of the counts; they responded with a single word, "No."
Johnson then gave jurors an “Allen Charge."
The Allen Charge includes specific language to urge jurors to set aside any personal differences, but to rely solely on the facts and deliberate.
Ellis is accused of shaking down vendors for campaign cash. He is facing a total of 13 counts, including bribery, theft, extortion and perjury.
Ellis will not be able to return to work because he was not acquitted of the charges. In the meantime, he will continue to get paid his annual salary, according to DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May.
If convicted on all counts, Ellis faces nearly 20 years behind bars.
What went on inside the jury room?
Channel 2's Mark Winne spoke exclusively with one of the jurors who sat on the corruption trial.
Susan Worthy said she agrees with the judge’s decision to declare a mistrial, saying there was no way they were going to reach a unanimous verdict on the counts.
“There were some counts we were definitely hung on, there were some counts we were leaning towards innocence and there were some counts we were leaning toward guilt,” said Worthy.
Worthy said the group left the deliberation room with respect for fellow jurors.
“There were days, time when it was jovial and we were all getting along. There was times when we did not agree and people were very passionate about his guilt or his innocence and it showed in their response and how we were deliberating,” said Worthy.
She said the group came very close to a conviction on one charge. Worthy says the jury was one vote away from a unanimous decision on count 9, theft by extortion. The vote was 11 to 1 in favor of guilt.
Worthy said just because they couldn’t come to a decision doesn’t mean the case shouldn’t be tried again.
“I think the citizens of DeKalb County are due justice and we should try the case again." said Worthy.