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Juror set to face contempt charges, cover court costs for Okafor mistrial

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — After three weeks of sitting silently in the jury box, A juror in Bessman Okafor’s resentencing trial confessed to the judge that she talked about it with a friend days before deliberations began.

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The juror’s admission was enough for the defense to ask for a mistrial, which the judge granted.  Now, she is facing charges and could have to pay for the cost of the 3 week trial.

Across the courtroom, Okafor kept his hand on his face, scowling at the juror.

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Those close to 19-year-old Alex Zaldivar say they’re filled with a familiar pain and want for justice once again.

“I was livid,” said Rafael Saldivar. “I was emotionally drained for three weeks.”

Prosecutors said Okofar killed Zaldivar execution-style 11 years ago, after he was set to testify against him in a robbery case.

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Zaldivar’s father was hopeful this week would end in a death penalty verdict, just as it did after the original trial in 2015.

“My job is to make sure that we put them back in a six by nine box, whether they execute them or not, but I want them in that box. We will never see it coming,” said Rafael Saldivar. “But I’m disheartened.”

Now the court will have to start from scratch, while that juror is expected to face charges for indirect criminal contempt. The judge said part of that sanction will also include paying the cost of the trial.

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The jurors name hasn’t been released yet. The judge said she will be arrested sometime within the next seven days.

Okafor is due back in court November 9.

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