NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lawyers for former NYPD Officer Peter Liang want a new trial for their client after it was revealed a juror failed to disclose that his father was convicted of the same crime Liang was on trial for.
CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Wednesday that 62-year-old Michael Vargas, juror number nine, should not have been seated because he lied to the court for not saying that his father was convicted of manslaughter.
When asked by the court if anyone very close to him had been accused of a crime, Vargas said his friends have, but not his family.
“We now know that Mr. Vargas’ father was convicted of manslaughter for shooting a friend and served more than seven years in prison,” Liang’s lawyers said in a statement.
In a published interview following Liang’s guilty verdict in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, Vargas mentioned his father’s conviction. Defense attorneys also said that in a 2014 Facebook post, Vargas said police officers are not being held accountable for violence that they say suggests a broader motive for his willingness to lie to get on the jury.
Criminal defense attorney Joseph DiBenedetto said Liang’s lawyers have a credible argument.
“The juror had at his fingertips the knowledge that his dad was convicted and went to jail when asked by a reporter shortly after the verdict,” DiBenedetto said. “It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he purposely answered no when in fact he knew that an answer of yes would’ve possibly excluded him from the case.”
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said that “Peter Liang received a fair trial and we will respond to the motion in court.”
Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson recommended no jail time for Liang.
The former officer is facing 15 years in jail and his sentencing is scheduled for next Thursday.