Juror excused from Katrina shootings trial
NEW ORLEANS - One of the jurors hearing the case against five current or former police officers charged in the deadly shootings on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina was excused Monday, more than three weeks into the trial, because she is related to the wife of one of the defendants.
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt granted a request by federal prosecutors to excuse the woman from the 12-person jury. She was replaced by one of four alternates when the trial resumed.
Prosecutors said the woman, "due to no wrongdoing on her part or by any party," learned during the trial that she was related to a defendant's wife. A court filing Monday by prosecutors doesn't name the defendant or specify how the juror is "closely related" to the officer's wife.
It wasn't immediately clear when - or how - Engelhardt and the attorneys learned the woman was related by marriage to the defendant.
The trial entered its fourth week with testimony from an FBI agent who investigated the Danziger Bridge shootings, which killed two people and wounded four others less than a week after the 2005 storm.
Police are accused of shooting unarmed, wounded residents on the bridge as they responded to an officer's distress call. Officers also allegedly plotted to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports to make the shootings appear justified.
Prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case this week, possibly as early as Monday, before defense attorneys start calling witnesses.