NASSAU, Bahamas, January 29, 2010 – In just over six months from now, two Bahamians will again go on trial for trying to extort US$25 million from American actor John Travolta.
This week, three months after a mistrial was declared in the case, a judge set September 6th for the start of the retrial.
Last October, Justice Anita Allen stopped the five-week trial as it was nearing an end, over concerns about leaks from the jury room. She took the decision after Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) politician, Picewell Forbes, announced at the party’s televised annual convention that former Senator Pleasant Bridgewater, accused alongside paramedic Tarino Lightbourne in the extortion case, had been acquitted although the jury was still deliberating.
No schedule had at the time been set for the case to be heard again, but earlier this week, Senior Justice Jon Isaacs announced the new date.
He also indicated that he would direct the Supreme Court Registrar to appoint a lawyer to represent Lightbourne after the lawyer who represented him at the first trial, Carlson Shurland, said he would not be able to this time around.
Bridgewater will continue to be represented by the attorney from the first trial, Murrio Ducille.
The two are accused of demanding US$25 million from Travolta, following the January 2nd, 2009 death of the actor’s autistic son, Jett, who suffered a seizure at the Old Bahama Bay Resort where the family was vacationing.
It is alleged that they threatened to give the media a document Travolta had signed, releasing ambulance personnel from any liability for the 16-year-old’s death after the actor decided to try to fly him to Florida for treatment rather than have him taken to a local hospital.
The actor had testified during the first trial that he was told that if he didn’t pay the money, the document would be sold to the media and used to generate stories suggesting he was at fault in his son’s death.