Jurors in the Mike Tyson rape trial met Thursday morning in private with the judge and attorneys in the case to determine if there was any cause for a mistrial following a one-day interruption of testimony caused by a fire at the hotel housing the sequestered jurors.
The jurors were questioned individually by Marion Superior Court Judge Patricia Gifford and lawyers for both sides to learn if they were too upset by the fire to continue.Tyson, 25, is accused of raping a Miss Black America contestant on July 19 in his suite at the Canterbury Hotel.
The jurors were led from their burning hotel to safety early Wednesday. None was injured but their loss of sleep and the fact their smoke-damaged clothing was still in the hotel caused a day's delay in testimony.
The fire was reported at 12:08 a.m. at the Indianapolis Athletic Club. The blaze killed three people, including two firefighters and a lodger from Illinois. Court officials said the jurors will not be told about the deaths until after the trial.
The fire came just hours after the prosecution rested its case and defense attorneys began calling witnesses. It was anticipated that the former heavyweight boxing champion would testify sometime Thursday to deny allegations of rape and criminal deviate conduct.
Gifford dismissed a count of confinement against Tyson Tuesday.
If convicted on the remaining counts, Tyson could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison.
Defense attorneys and deputy prosecutors not related to the case speculated it was highly unlikely a mistrial would be granted. They said the defense would find it hard to persuade Gifford that the jurors would be unable to process evidence and reach a fair verdict.
There was speculation on local news reports about possible defense grounds to seek a mistrial because television reports said residents of a nearby apartment building shouted their support for Tyson as jurors huddled outside the burning structure.
Bailiffs and a Marion County sheriff's deputy kept the jurors together and away from other people on a sidewalk outside the Athletic Club.
Security was heightened at the City-County Building, although court officials denied the fire caused it. Court spokesman Mark Shaw said a bomb-sniffing dog made a sweep of the court area and a metal detector was placed near the entrance to the courtroom.
Sheriff's deputies also were assigned to the court area although sheriff's Maj. Jack Smith said the court had received no threats Wednesday.
The defense has argued that sex between Tyson, who won his first world title at age 20, and his accuser was consensual and that she was after his money.
The prosecution rested its case Tuesday with dramatic testimony from the accuser's mother, who wept as she said her daughter still has nightmares about the alleged attack. Also Tuesday, the defense lost a bid to call three surprise witnesses who would have said they saw Tyson and the young woman kissing in the back seat of his limousine.