61° Good Evening
61° Good Evening

Peter Liang’s lawyers file motion for mistrial over alleged jury misconduct

Lawyers for Peter Liang, the former NYPD officer

Lawyers for Peter Liang, the former NYPD officer convicted in the 2014 fatal stairwell shooting of Akai Gurley, have filed a motion for a mistrial. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Lawyers for Peter Liang filed a motion Tuesday for a mistrial based on alleged jury misconduct just over a week before the former NYPD officer is scheduled to be sentenced.

The motion alleged that one juror lied during jury selection and didn’t disclose that his father had served time in prison for accidentally shooting someone, one of Liang’s attorneys, Rae Downes Koshetz, said.

“He said no one in his close family had been charged with a crime,” she said.

Liang, 28, was convicted in February for the 2014 fatal stairwell shooting of Akai Gurley, also 28.

In the motion, it alleged that the father of Juror No. 9, named as Michael Vargas, was convicted of manslaughter and served more than seven years in prison.

“Mr. Vargas’ deliberately false answer was designed to secure him a place on the jury, which would not have been his had he given a truthful answer,” according to the motion, which also accuses him of trying to avoid answering the question during jury selection. “Mr. Vargas’ falsehood was not accidental or inconsequential. It was a major lie.”

The last-minute effort for a new trial comes just days before Liang will appear in court for sentencing on April 14.

“Peter Liang received a fair trial and we will respond to the motion in court,” a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said in an email.

Last month, the Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said he doesn’t think Liang should serve any jail time. Instead, he recommended five years of probation, including six months of house arrest, and 500 hours of community service.

Liang does face up to 15 years in prison, and his sentence is ultimately up to Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who presided over the trial.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News photos & videos