Washington, D.C. A federal judge on Sunday dismissed one of the jurors at Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' corruption trial after losing contact with the woman following her father's death.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan plans to seat an alternate juror this morning and order the jury to start their deliberations over from the beginning, a setback for Stevens' attempt to get a verdict before Alaskans vote on Election Day.
In the Senate since 1968 and now its longest-serving Republican, Stevens is charged with lying on Senate financial disclosure documents to conceal $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from a friend, millionaire oil contractor Bill Allen.
Stevens has proclaimed his innocence. He is locked in a tight race with Democrat Mark Begich for his Senate seat, and had hoped for an acquittal before Election Day.
Defense lawyer Robert Cary argued for Sullivan to delay his decision until noon today in case there was a reason the juror had not contacted the court. "She may be on her way back," Cary said.
But Sullivan said court officials had repeatedly tried to contact the juror to no avail.