Amish trial jury starts Day Five of deliberations

12:05 PM, Sep 20, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- This is Day Five of deliberations for the jury in the trial of 16 Amish defendants regarding Amish-on-Amish attacks that occurred last September through November.

They have already deliberated a total of four 8-hour days without reaching a verdict.

They resumed deliberations just after 9 a.m. Thursday.

Federal officials have returned the alleged ringleader Samuel Mullet Sr., 66, to the courthouse from Bedford Heights City Jail where he is being kept.

Six of the male defendants are being housed in the Cuyahoga County Jail.

The remaining six women defendants and three other male defendants are allowed to go home each night.

On Wednesday morning, the jury asked U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Polster, in writing, regarding Count 1 (conspiracy) if they had to find that the intent of the conspiracy was to cause bodily harm to all nine of the victims.

Polster told them that "if you find that a conspiracy existed, and that the conspiracy was to cause bodily harm to at least one of the victims...then you must then separately determine which of the 16 defendants joined in the conspiracy."

Defense attorneys and prosecutors have not commented on the record as to why they think the deliberations are taking so long but say the jury appears to be doing their due diligence and taking their time.

The verdicts must be unanimous on each count for the accused to be found guilty.

All 16 defendants are accused of Count 1 -- conspiracy -- for allegedly participating in one way or the other in the cutting of fellow Amish women's hair and Amish men's hair and beards.

The five cutting attacks on a total of nine victims took place between September and November last year.

Cutting the hair or beards of Amish is considered a disgrace to them. Amish women do not cut their hair after they are married and Amish men do not cut their beards after they are married.

The focus of the trial has centered on Mullet Sr., the leader of the breakaway Amish sect located in Bergholz, Ohio. Prosecutors accuse him of being the instigator of all the attacks, an accusation that he denies.

Defense attorneys say these are not religious hate crimes but nothing more than family feuds that led to the incidents.

There are a total of 54 charges and 10 counts.

Mullet's sect is described as the "Bergholz clan," a group of about 20 Amish families who live on his 880-acre farm.

Five men and five women, including Mullet Sr., are charged with Count 2, attacking Martin and Barbara Miller on Sept. 6, 2011.

Mullet and four other men are charged in Count 3, the Sept. 24, 2011 attack on David Wengard.

Mullet and five other men are charged with Count 4, attacking Raymond Hershberger and his son, Andy Hershberger, on Oct. 4, 2011.

Five of the men are charged with Count 5, attacking Myron Miller on Oct. 4 as well.

Count 6 charges relate to the Nov. 9 attack on Melvin and Anna Schrock while the couple was visiting their children and grandchildren in Bergholz.

In Count 7, Samuel Mullet Sr. alone is accused of destroying evidence -- a bag of hair brought to him from one of the attacks.

Count 8 has Mullet Sr., and three other men tampering with evidence, specifically, hiding the disposable camera that Eli Miller used to document the attacks.

Defendant Lester Miller is the only one charged with Count 9, trying to hide the mane-cutting shears used in the attacks.

Mullet Sr. is the only one of the defendants charged with Count 10, lying to the FBI when they interviewed him on Nov. 22 about the attacks.


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