A Bahamian judge has declared a mistrial in the John Travolta extortion case.
After nearly a month in the courtroom, the case ended in a mistrial when a local politician suggested that the still-deliberating jury had acquitted former senator Pleasant Bridgewater, one of the defendants, according to The Associated Press.
Senior Justice Anita Allen ordered a new trial late Wednesday "in the interest of justice" because the politician's statement — made during a speech broadcasted on television and radio — suggested an improper leak from the jury room.
"The dilemma that we face is great," Allen said to the court. "I am erring on the side of caution. Justice must be transparent."
While the jurors were deliberating for nearly nine hours, lawmaker Picewell Forbes told an audience at a Progressive Liberal Party convention that Bridgewater was "a free woman."
The party's deputy chairman, Alex Storr, apologized on behalf of the party immediately after, saying Forbes had misspoken and no verdict had been issued.
But Allen said the incident gave her no choice but to dismiss the jurors. A new trial date has not been set yet.
Michael Ossi, one of Travolta's attorneys, said his client would testify again if necessary. "We are committed to seeing this through, and we are committed to seeing justice served," Ossi said. "And whatever the prosecution asks us to do is exactly what we will do."
Ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne and Bridgewater were accused of threatening to release private information about the death of Travolta's 16-year-old son Jett during a family vacation. The pair allegedly sought $25 million from the actor.