Jury fails to reach unanimous verdict
MESA, Arizona: An ASU students hit-and-run trial ended in a mistrial Thursday afternoon at Maricopa County Superior Court. The four men and four women on the jury were unable to come to a conclusion on whether Reem Bishara, a geography sophomore, left the scene of a fatal accident. The jury voted 7-1 in favor of a conviction, one unidentified juror said as she left the courthouse. A unanimous verdict had to be reached for conviction. Bishara was convicted on the charge of underage drinking. Bishara and Muneerah Al-Tarrah, an ASU graduate, reportedly spent the night of Sept 13 drinking at several bars in Scottsdale.
In the early hours of Sept 14, while driving in Mesa, Al-Tarrah allegedly hit 35-year-old Todd DeGain, who was riding a scooter. Prosecutor Jennifer Green said Bishara, who was following Al-Tarrah in her Ford Mustang, hit debris from the scooter. Al-Tarrah, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.15, was charged with leaving the scene of a crime, DUI and extreme DUI. She fled to her home country of Kuwait in January. Bishara contended she did not see Al-Tarrah hit DeGain and therefore did not flee the scene.
Neither Bishara nor Al-Tarrah was charged with the death of DeGain, who police said was riding on the road illegally when he was hit. Bishara said she would not comment Thursday. The victims father, Glenn DeGain, said he was upset the jury wasnt able to come up with a verdict. I think this is a big disappointment for our community, he said. I was unsuccessful in my continued efforts to communicate with the prosecution and police regarding information and evidence that would have strengthened the case.
Bishara will be sentenced May 4 for the underage drinking charge. A status conference for a new trial on the hit-and-run charge is also scheduled for May 4. Bill FitzGerald, spokesman for the county attorneys office, said his office will study whether to retry Bishara on the charge of leaving the scene of a fatal collision. The felony carries a punishment of probation to a three-year, nine-month prison term. Bishara, who has been upbeat and jovial with courtroom spectators throughout trial, left the downtown Phoenix courthouse without comment and with a dour expression.