Kevin Downing (C), Richard Westling (L) and Thomas Zehnle, attorneys for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, leave Tuesday after he was found guilty on 8 of 10 charges in his fraud case, at the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The judge in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort nearly declared a mistrial because a juror remarked about his lack of defense, court documents show.
A jury in Virginia on Tuesday found Manafort guilty on eight of the 18 counts he faced for bank fraud.
The verdict came after four days of deliberations during which the panel of six men and six women indicated it had difficulty reaching a consensus on 10 of the counts. One juror, Paula Duncan, told Fox News a lone holdout was all that stood between Manafort and convictions on all counts.
Duncan said though she was skeptical about prosecutors' motives in the case, the evidence showed Manafort was guilty.
"Finding Mr. Manafort guilty was hard for me. I wanted him to be innocent, I really wanted him to be innocent, but he wasn't," she said. "That's the part of a juror, you have to have due diligence and deliberate and look at the evidence and come up with an informed and intelligent decision, which I did."
During the trial on Aug. 10 as Judge T.S. Ellis spoke with jurors, one told him other members were talking about politics and the case. When he heard one had mentioned Manafort's defense was "weak," he mulled declaring a mistrial, court documents show. Those types of discussions should not be held until the jury gets the case.
"This clearly is crossing the line if it, in fact, happened," defense attorney Richard Westling told the judge. "It suggests someone who has left beside -- behind the presumption of innocence the defendant is entitled to until the evidence is all in."
The juror who overheard the comment said she feared the other juror "had essentially made up her mind" on the case, the transcript said.
When the judge questioned the juror, she told him, "What I meant was that it would be really hard to have to defend against that." By that point, 23 witnesses had testified for the prosecution and thousands of pages had been entered into evidence.
Manafort faces up to 80 years in federal prison on the eight criminal counts. He faces a second trial in Washington next month on charges of lying to the FBI, money laundering and foreign lobbying.