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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesGuilty Verdict Yanked for Blyden, Mark: Jury Still Out

Guilty Verdict Yanked for Blyden, Mark: Jury Still Out

In a dramatic near-finish to an already week-long trial, a lone juror unraveled a guilty verdict late Friday night after five hours of jury deliberation in the federal racketeering and attempted murder trial of convicted drug trafficker Gelean Mark and V.I. Police Officer Jerome Blyden.

After five days of testimony in District Court and much legal wrangling throughout, Chief Judge Curtis Gomez had sent the jury to deliberate at about 5:45 p.m.
After returning with a verdict at 10:30 p.m. that found both Mark and Blyden guilty of attempting to murder Trevor Nicholas Friday Jr., and found Mark guilty on a multi-layered federal racketeering charge that included counts of drug smuggling and gambling associated with dog fighting, the defense attorneys asked that the jury be individually polled.
After the first nine jurors answered “yes,” that the decision was their unanimous verdict, juror number 10 – a man about the same age as both defendants – gave his answer “yes and no,” which threw the court into confusion.
The jury was sent back to deliberate until about 1:15 a.m. Saturday, when they asked to pause for the night and continue deliberation Monday. Judge Gomez instead granted them a chance to go home to sleep but ordered the jury back to District Court at 8:15 a.m. Saturday to resume deliberation until they reach a decision or, as many suspected after hearing the hold-out juror, until the proceeding is declared a mistrial.
In the original verdict that stood for about five minutes Friday, the jury found Blyden and Mark guilty of attempted murder for the shooting of Friday in front of the Hi-Ho Mart in Smith Bay on May 24, 2004. The jury had originally acquitted the two of a related weapons charge and acquitted Blyden of all four racketeering-related charges, but found Mark guilty of assault in connection with drug smuggling activities. All of those decisions were nullified.
The government’s case was built around the accusation that Mark ran a criminal racket on St. Thomas engaged in dog fighting and gambling and in the importation and distribution of cocaine. Prosecutors said the attempt on Friday’s life was meant to protect and advance the racket by eliminating Friday, who admitted that he was their main drug-dealing competition in Smith Bay.
While defense attorneys argued that Mark shot Friday in self-defense, the jury apparently agreed with the prosecution – at least until the juror changed his mind and the apparent consensus came apart Friday.
Judge Gomez said he believed the jury could reach a decision Saturday when the court reconvenes at 8:30 a.m.
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In a dramatic near-finish to an already week-long trial, a lone juror unraveled a guilty verdict late Friday night after five hours of jury deliberation in the federal racketeering and attempted murder trial of convicted drug trafficker Gelean Mark and V.I. Police Officer Jerome Blyden.

After five days of testimony in District Court and much legal wrangling throughout, Chief Judge Curtis Gomez had sent the jury to deliberate at about 5:45 p.m.
After returning with a verdict at 10:30 p.m. that found both Mark and Blyden guilty of attempting to murder Trevor Nicholas Friday Jr., and found Mark guilty on a multi-layered federal racketeering charge that included counts of drug smuggling and gambling associated with dog fighting, the defense attorneys asked that the jury be individually polled.
After the first nine jurors answered “yes,” that the decision was their unanimous verdict, juror number 10 – a man about the same age as both defendants – gave his answer “yes and no,” which threw the court into confusion.
The jury was sent back to deliberate until about 1:15 a.m. Saturday, when they asked to pause for the night and continue deliberation Monday. Judge Gomez instead granted them a chance to go home to sleep but ordered the jury back to District Court at 8:15 a.m. Saturday to resume deliberation until they reach a decision or, as many suspected after hearing the hold-out juror, until the proceeding is declared a mistrial.
In the original verdict that stood for about five minutes Friday, the jury found Blyden and Mark guilty of attempted murder for the shooting of Friday in front of the Hi-Ho Mart in Smith Bay on May 24, 2004. The jury had originally acquitted the two of a related weapons charge and acquitted Blyden of all four racketeering-related charges, but found Mark guilty of assault in connection with drug smuggling activities. All of those decisions were nullified.
The government’s case was built around the accusation that Mark ran a criminal racket on St. Thomas engaged in dog fighting and gambling and in the importation and distribution of cocaine. Prosecutors said the attempt on Friday’s life was meant to protect and advance the racket by eliminating Friday, who admitted that he was their main drug-dealing competition in Smith Bay.
While defense attorneys argued that Mark shot Friday in self-defense, the jury apparently agreed with the prosecution – at least until the juror changed his mind and the apparent consensus came apart Friday.
Judge Gomez said he believed the jury could reach a decision Saturday when the court reconvenes at 8:30 a.m.