Courtroom Blog: Jury Hung, Judge Declares Mistrial in Dr. Iqbal Memon’s Trial

Dr. Iqbal Memon (Photo: WHNT News 19 File)

Dr. Iqbal Memon (Photo: WHNT News 19 File)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict in the trial of Dr. Iqbal Memon. Circuit Judge Donna Pate declared a mistrial late Thursday.

WHNT News 19 blogged from the courtroom.  Read our updates below.

Claire Aiello April 9, 20149:45 am

Court resumed about 9 a.m.  The jury is behind closed doors and has had the case since about 4 p.m. Tuesday.  WHNT News 19 is in the courtroom awaiting a verdict.  We’ll keep you updated here.

Claire Aiello April 9, 20149:49 am

Tuesday’s testimony included Madison Police taking the stand, wife Safia Memon and Dr. Iqbal Memon, the defendant.  There were some heated moments between Dr. Memon and prosecutors: http://whnt.com/2014/04/08/madison-police-safia-memon-take-stand-in-day-2-of-iqbal-memons-trial/

Claire Aiello April 9, 20149:51 am

Dr. Memon’s lawyer, Barry Abston, has taken the strategy of trying to pin the case on Safia Memon, saying she arranged the passports with son Hammad to flee the country. Dr. Memon has maintained he didn’t know they were trying to go to Pakistan.  Hammad Memon was caught in Texas and later convicted of the murder of Todd Brown at Discovery Middle School in 2010.  He pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence. 

Claire Aiello April 9, 201410:01 am

Safia Memon has already pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution.  She is serving a year of probation in the case. Details: http://whnt.com/2013/06/11/breaking-safia-memon-pleads-guilty-to-attempting-to-hinder-prosecution/

Claire Aiello April 9, 201410:10 am

Circuit Judge Donna Pate is presiding in the case.  

Claire Aiello April 9, 201410:12 am

Barry Abston is representing the defendant, Dr. Iqbal Memon.  Abston has represented several high-profile defendants, including Amy Bishop.

Claire Aiello April 9, 201410:14 am

Melvin Lockett is the prosecutor in the case.  He joined the Madison County District Attorney’s Office in 2008.

Claire Aiello April 9, 201410:16 am

In this photo, Lockett, the prosecutor, questions Safia Memon on the stand.  She testified Tuesday, saying she did not tell her husband Iqbal about her plans to get son Hammad out of the country.  The two had applied for passports and were planning to go to Pakistan.  Safia and Hammad were caught in Texas.   

Claire Aiello April 9, 201410:17 am

Cameras are not allowed inside courtrooms in Alabama. That is why you often see photos or video from behind a window.  

Claire Aiello April 9, 201410:21 am

Dr. Memon took the stand Tuesday in his defense.  When asked if he loved his son Hammad, he replied “You can love someone – but there are rules to follow.”  Dr. Memon said he was not aware Safia was attempting to take Hammad out of the country. “Safia knew I wouldn’t have let that happen — no way,” Memon said.

Dr. Memon said after Hammad was granted bond, he wanted him to stay in jail to await the murder trial. He only agreed to post bond after Safia begged him to get their son out of jail to come live at home.

Claire Aiello April 9, 201410:29 am

We are still awaiting a verdict. WHNT News 19 has multiple crews in place to bring you coverage when it happens.

David Wood April 9, 201410:34 am

Tuesday in closing arguments for the state assistant District Attorney Melvin Lockett played on emotion saying this case was about a young man who was killed and a family attempting to help their son avoid justice.

David Wood April 9, 201410:35 am

Lockett said the “only just verdict” would be a verdict of guilty to bring justice to family members of slain Discovery Middle School teen Todd Brown.

David Wood April 9, 201410:36 am

Defense attorney Barry Abston on the other hand hinged statements in his closing arguments on the evidence and “lack thereof” in the case.

Catherine Awasthi April 9, 201410:38 am

Jurors still deliberating in case against Dr. Iqbal Memon. Defense attorney Barry Abston called the case one filled with “careless police investigation”. Lockett, the prosecutor, says only a ‘guilty’ verdict is a ‘just’ verdict. 

David Wood April 9, 201410:39 am

Abston reminded jurors of the testimony that Dr. Iqbal Memon was deceived by his wife Safia, who testified she concealed all her efforts to leave the country with her son from her husband.

David Wood April 9, 201410:40 am

We recently saw jurors take a mid-morning break before heading back into deliberations. 

David Wood April 9, 201410:42 am

We have not seen any members of Todd Brown’s family here yet – at least not on the eighth floor of the Madison County Courthouse.

David Wood April 9, 201410:43 am

Todd Brown’s family members, though have had a presence inside the courtroom during testimony since Monday.

Claire Aiello April 9, 201411:54 am

Court will pause until 1pm for lunch. WHNT News 19’s David Wood will have a live report on the morning’s developments in just a few moments on WHNT News 19 at Noon.  Watch here: http://whnt.com/on-air/live-streaming/

Catherine Awasthi April 9, 20141:29 pm

Jurors resume deliberation after 1 hour lunch break. WHNT has multiple crews at the Madison County Courthouse to bring you the latest developments.

Catherine Awasthi April 9, 20141:50 pm

Judge Pate is back in the courtroom to answer a question. Getting ready for the verdict in the hindering prosecution case against Dr. Iqbal Memon. 

Catherine Awasthi April 9, 20141:52 pm

Question from jurors:  “A guilty verdict requires both elements of the charge to be established beyond a reasonable doubt. Can you explain again what that means?”

Catherine Awasthi April 9, 20141:57 pm

Jurors ask for clarification of elements of the charge, ‘hindering prosecution of Hammad Memon’. 

Catherine Awasthi April 9, 20141:58 pm

Jurors retire to continue deliberations.

Catherine Awasthi April 9, 20142:19 pm

Judge Pate outlines elements of the hindering prosecution charge: 1. Intentionally preventing Hammad’s arrest, conviction or punishment, or class A or B felony. 2. Rendering criminal assistance to Hammad. Judge Pate says reasonable doubt about any element entitles acquittal for Iqbal. 

David Wood April 9, 20143:23 pm

3:30 Memon verdict update: no movement. Jurors still deliberating.

Catherine Awasthi April 9, 20143:53 pm

4:00 Memon verdict update: Jurors continue deliberation. 

Catherine Awasthi April 9, 20144:28 pm

4:30 Memon verdict update: Still no verdict. Jurors still deliberating. 

Drew Galloway April 9, 20145:02 pm

5:00 p.m. update: The jury is being released. They will reconvene tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

WHNT will be there to bring you the latest on air, online, and on social media.

Claire Aiello April 10, 20148:56 am

Good morning – it’s just before 9 a.m. Thursday and we’re in place in the courtroom to bring you the latest. 

Claire Aiello April 10, 20149:05 am

There is some activity taking place in the courtroom, but it is not related to the Memon case. Judge Pate will hear updates on other cases while the jury deliberates in another room.

No one is present currently from the Iqbal Memon case  – the defendant, defense, prosecutors, spectators, anyone.

Claire Aiello April 10, 201410:11 am

Still no activity in the courtroom.  All is quiet.  The jury is down the hall in a closed room. They asked for coffee once, and that’s been it so far this morning.

Claire Aiello April 10, 201410:58 am

The jury is still out. It’s shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday. This makes almost a full day and a half of deliberations – the jury got the case Tuesday around 4 p.m.

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:25 am

Jury appears to be hung, after a day and a half of deliberations.  We expect to see them back in the courtroom shortly. Prosecutor Melvin Lockett is here, court reporter is here.  I expect we’ll see the judge and defense here shortly.  

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:26 am

And.. on cue – the defense lawyer Barry Abston walks in.

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:30 am

Safia Memon just walked in, wife of Iqbal Memon.  Dr. Memon is here now too.

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:31 am

Various parties continue to assemble in court.  The jury is not here yet. 

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:33 am

Judge is here – jury is coming in now.

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:34 am

Judge is addressing the jury. Confirmed with jury foreman they have not been able to reach a unanimous verdict. Jury foreman confirms it.

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:35 am

Judge is addressing the jury, thanking them for their hard work and dedication to the case.  She is sorry they haven’t been able to reach a unanimous verdict. If they can’t reach one, she will have to declare a mistrial. 

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:36 am

Judge is asking them to reconsider others’ opinions.  She is talking about other decisions jurors have made in their lives – differences of opinions have come about in those. Consider the evidence, give everyone a chance to weigh in. Base opinion on substantive evidence, not personal opinion or bias, simply on the evidence they have heard. 

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:37 am

When they have an opinion, speak up and use the evidence in the case as the basis for that. 

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:39 am

Judge urges them to reach a verdict if they can consciously do so. Offering the option of breaking for lunch.  The jury returned to the deliberation room, and will let the bailiff know the decision about lunch.

Claire Aiello April 10, 201411:39 am

Jury says they want to go to lunch to take a break – 1pm.  We’ll have more updates then.

Claire Aiello April 10, 20141:31 pm

Jury is back in the closed room.  They are still deliberating, after Judge Pate urged them to keep going.  They’re going on 2 full days of this.  

Claire Aiello April 10, 20142:06 pm

We are still in the courtroom. I took a picture of this to show you what we’re looking for – a sign, any sort of sign from the jury. To the left of the clock is a light bulb that turns red when the jury has an update or needs something.  It’s been red twice today – once, in the 9am hour to indicate someone would like a cup of coffee, and a second time, shortly after 11am. We then learned the jury was ready to say they were stuck, ‘hung’. The jury came in shortly afterwards, and the judge in the case urged them to keep going.  

So, we’re waiting on the light to turn red again. We appreciate those of you who are following the blog today.  We’re happy to provide updates for you.

Claire Aiello April 10, 20142:09 pm

And if you’re curious, this isn’t the only thing we are doing while we wait – I’m writing some other content for WHNT.com and posting updates to Facebook and Twitter on various other stories.  Multi-tasking is part of a regular news day.

Reporter David Wood is next to me preparing stories for this evening.  Much of what we do during the ‘waiting time’ is preparing various versions of the story for the news – some don’t get used, depending on what the verdict is.

Claire Aiello April 10, 20143:51 pm

Still awaiting an update from the jury.  No developments to report.

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:04 pm

Some movement in the jury room. The light turned red, indicating they have something to say. 

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:08 pm

Waiting for Judge Pate and the jury to convene in the courtroom. There is a possibility that no verdict has been reached.

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:10 pm

Assistant District Attorney Melvin Lockett is in the courtroom waiting for an announcement from the jury on the verdict. 

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:13 pm

Judge Pate is back on the stand, waiting to address the jury. 

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:18 pm

The Memons are in the courtroom, waiting for the jurors to enter and discuss the verdict. 

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:20 pm

Juror says no unanimous verdict at this point.

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:20 pm

Judge Pate declares mistrial.

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:22 pm

Jurors have been directed to standby for further instructions. 

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:24 pm

Judge Pate thanks jurors for their time and effort. Tentatively rescheduled trial for August or September, 2014.

Claire Aiello April 10, 20144:25 pm

Read previous reports about how the trial unfolded, including testimony from police and Iqbal and Safia Memon: http://on.whnt.com/1hoY3I9

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:26 pm

Assistant District Attorney Melvin Lockett says, “I’m disappointed no verdict was reached,” and adds he is, “happy there were some jurors who saw he was guilty.” 

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:29 pm

Memom Defense Attorney Barry Abston: “There were obviously significant problems with States arguments. If the state decides they want to come back again, we will be here fighting.”

Catherine Awasthi April 10, 20144:35 pm

Todd Browns family says they applaud the jurors for their hard work in this case. If and when the trial continues, they say they will be in that courtroom for their son.