After one day of deliberation, a federal jury deadlocked in the case of a British Virgin Islander boater accused of ignoring a lawful order from a marine police patrol to stop while in U.S. waters.
Chief District Judge Robert Molloy declared a mistrial and then set the date for a retrial for defendant William Malone. Malone stood trial in District Court this week on a single charge of failing to heave to.
The jury began deliberations as the trial ended Tuesday afternoon. Molloy called jurors back to the courtroom on Wednesday afternoon after receiving a note that there was a deadlock.
“ … On October 19, 2022, the jury foreperson informed the Court that the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. After polling the jury and consulting with the parties, the Court, for the reasons stated on the record on October 19, 2022, declared a mistrial on Count One,” Molloy wrote.
The judge ordered a retrial to begin with jury selection on Dec. 12 at 9 a.m.
Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office presented testimony and evidence about an encounter between U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Malone, in Coral Bay, St. John on Dec. 28, 2021. Some of those officers testified that when they spotted a dingy traveling past their position without navigation lights, they flashed the blue lights on their patrol boat and sounded the siren.
That’s when they said Malone took off in his motorized dinghy and a chase began. Testifying witnesses said the chase ended after pursuing officers fired warning flares, and when that failed fired a shot through the dinghy’s motor.
The federal public defender representing the accused said Customs officers snuck up on her client, and he fled, not knowing who they were or what they wanted.
“He just thought it was another vessel,” said attorney Kia Sears.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Natasha Baker told the court that based on the testimony, officers had a reason to order a stop because the vessel was being operated without lights.
“The crime happened when Mr. Malone failed to stop,” Baker said.