Jury sent home when court deputy suggests finding man guilty

A Florida court deputy is accused of telling jurors to find a man on trial guilty

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A court deputy in South Florida is accused of telling jurors to find a man on trial guilty, which prompted the judge to halt the proceedings and send the jury home.

Defense attorney Richard Rosenbaum told the South Florida SunSentinel that another Broward County Sheriff's Office deputy reported overhearing Deputy Roberto Aspuru make the suggestion to jurors last week. His client, Lateef Garnes, was on trial facing aggravated battery charges in the shooting of two men in 2013.

“He said, ‘You should find Garnes guilty as charged,’ and a couple jurors laughed,” Rosenbaum said.

Broward County Circuit Judge Andrew L. Siegel then dismissed the six-person jury that had been chosen, but not yet sworn in. Opening statements were set to begin.

The sheriff's office said Aspuru is on restricted duty on allegations of “discretion” and “conduct unbecoming an employee."

“There’s really not too much I can say on this one,” said Jeff Bell, the union representative for Aspuru. “Our silence is probably his best defense right now.”

Rosenbaum said the trial is now set for Feb. 17. Garnes faces a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.