A jury failed to reach a verdict [jury note, PDF] Wednesday in the retrial of former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten, ending weeks of deliberation in a mistrial.
“We have reexamined our views and continued our discussions about the evidence and determined that individually we cannot ‘surrender honest conviction as to the weight or effect of evidence solely because of the opinion of our fellow jurors, or for the mere purpose of returning a verdict’… We are unable to reach a unanimous decision,” the foreman wrote.
US District Judge Royce Lamberth declared a mistrial shortly after the jury note. Slatten will remain in custody until a status hearing set for September 14.
Slatten, a former Army sniper, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] in April 2015 for firing the first fatal shots. An appeals court overturned [JURIST report] Slatten’s murder conviction in August 2017, ruling that the initial trial court abused its discretion in not allowing Slatten to be tried separately from three other co-defendants and also found that the 30-year sentences violated the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Blackwater [JURIST news archive] and its employees have faced legal controversy for activities during the Iraq war. In 2014 the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries urged[JURIST report] stronger global and regulation of private security companies. The call came on the heels of the guilty verdict[JURIST report] against the four ex-Blackwater security guards. In 2012 Blackwater agreed to settle [JURIST report] federal criminal charges dealing with export and firearm violations. Also in 2012 Blackwater reached a confidential settlement agreement [JURIST report] with survivors and families of victims in the 2007 shooting incident. Blackwater ceased operations in Baghdad [JURIST report] in May 2009 when its security contracts expired and were not renewed.