Liang juror accused of lying

By Niu Yue in New York (China Daily USA)     Updated : 2016-04-07

One of the jurors who convicted Peter Liang of manslaughter may have lied to the court, and Laing's lawyers want the former NYPD officer's February guilty verdict thrown out.

In a motion filed Tuesday - 10 days before sentencing - Liang's lawyers argue that juror Michael Vargas, 62, "lied knowingly and for the purpose of securing a seat on the jury."

During jury selection, Vargas was asked by the court whether he "or anyone very close" to him had ever been accused of a crime.

"None that have made the papers," Vargas said, and when pressed, answered, "No, no."

The Daily News ran an article on March 26 about Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thomson's recommendation that Liang's sentence should be probation and house arrest and not include time in prison. Liang faces up to 15 years in prison.

"There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley. When Mr Liang went into that building that night, he did so as part of his job and to keep the people of Brooklyn and our city safe," Thomsen wrote in a statement of March 23.

The Daily News article quoted an unnamed 62-year-old juror who called the DA's suggestion "a slap on the wrist" and went on to say his own father had served seven years in prison 40 years ago for accidentally shooting and killing someone, a case similar to Liang's.

That unnamed juror turned out to be Vargas.

Liang's lawyers' motion says Vargas' "falsehood was not accidental or inconsequential" but "a major lie."

"Although the Court need not determine that Mr Vargas was actually biased, his comments to the Daily News indicate that he was," the motion reads.

Liang attorney Paul Shechtman said, "A juror who lies his way onto a jury is a stranger who sneaks into the jury room."

Vargas told CNN on Tuesday that Liang's lawyers "grabbing for straws".

"He is my father but he didn't raise me. I didn't live with him, and I didn't know him," Vargas said.

Asked about the new motion, the Brooklyn DA issued a statement: "Peter Liang received a fair trial and we will respond to the motion in court."