BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — The hail Mary bid for a mistrial from ex-NYPD Officer Peter Liang’s defense team was rejected by a Brooklyn Supreme Court justice Thursday afternoon.
“The motion to set the verdict aside is denied,” Justice Danny Chun said.
Liang’s defense team had tried to get the disgraced ex-police officer’s manslaughter conviction for the November 2014 fatal shooting of Akai Gurley thrown out by charging that juror Michael Vargas lied about his father's criminal past during panel selection.
They claimed that Vargas, 62, deceived the court by not bringing up his dad when asked if any of his close relatives had been accused of a crime — and pointed to Facebook posts that indicated Vargas may have a bias against police.
"There's not much memory of my father," the juror insisted. "He just wasn't there."
Chun said Vargas never lied. He pointed to the fact that Vargas maintained throughout the hearing that he wasn't close with his father. He added that he also had seemingly pro-law enforcement Facebook posts.
"It was not a deliberate withholding of his father's past," the judge said. "There's absolutely nothing that shows any prejudice."
After Defense Attorney Paul Shechtman referenced Vargas' Facebook posts again on Thursday, Chun snapped, "Is it on the basis of these Facebook postings that you're asking the court to set aside this verdict? Is that all you have?"
When Shechtman said he thought he had "a great deal more than that," Chun interjected, "Move on!"
The judge, however, did call Vargas' intellect into question before announcing his decision.
"His ability to answer questions was not at the top level of intelligence," the judge said.
Liang faces up to 15 years in prison when he’s sentenced Tuesday, April 19.