The jurors who deadlocked in the espionage trial of Richard W. Miller traded bitter accusations Thursday after the mistrial in the case and revealed the hostile mood of the deliberations that left them unable to reach a verdict.
Criticized as an "embryo psychologist" by a fellow juror, an Orange County mental health worker who was one of the two holdouts for acquittal accused the jury's majority of trying to pressure her into changing her vote.
She charged that the government should never have prosecuted Miller.
"The evidence to me simply wasn't there. The case never should have come to trial," said Virginia Hennes, a Fountain Valley mother of six who is working on a doctorate in connection with her mental health career. She voted to acquit Miller on all of seven espionage counts.
Seeks New Foreman
Bobby R. Rivera, the other vote for acquittal in the case of the first FBI agent ever charged as a spy, revealed that the deliberations had become so bitter that he had finally asked that the jury foreman be replaced.
Rivera, a production supervisor for Ralphs Grocery Co. who lives in Anaheim, was denounced by some other jurors as a prima donna who had tried to take over the jury's deliberations. On the final jury tally, he voted to acquit on the three most serious spying counts.
He said his main reason for voting to acquit Miller was that he believed the FBI had unfairly coerced confessions from the ex-agent during five days of interrogation that led to Miller's arrest.
"I think he was manipulated under interrogation," Rivera said. "I just held true to my convictions and the other jurors were very frustrated with my unwillingness to believe the testimony that came out of those five days of interrogation."
Other members of the jury, who believed that Miller was guilty of passing secret documents to agents of the Soviet Union, claimed that Hennes and Rivera were unwilling to listen to their arguments in favor of conviction and were aloof to all efforts at persuasion.
"The rest of us, we went by the evidence and the witnesses," said one of the jurors, Frank Clement Saylor, a 73-year-old retired airline pilot from La Crescenta. "The other two thought there was undue interrogation by the FBI and that Miller had spoken under duress."
The jury foreman, who presided over the panel's 14-day futile effort to reach a verdict, also criticized the two holdouts.
"They did not appear to be too willing to fully explain to the other 10 people their logic and reasons," said jury Foreman William T. Loomis, a 58-year-old supervisor in Northrop Corp's electronics division. "It was all, 'You 10 people are biased in your direction and not listening.' "
Loomis also was mildly critical of prosecutors for making it look as if the government was "out to hang the guy."
"You could have gotten the feeling that the bureaucratic department was out to hang the guy," he said, criticizing the government for calling 75 witnesses to testify against Miller.
"It is entirely possible because of all of that, you could have misinterpreted the intent and think there was a conspiracy against him," he said.
The jurors spoke out on the deadlock while prosecutors and defense lawyers were regrouping to prepare for a second trial of Miller, 48, a former Soviet counterintelligence agent in the FBI's Los Angeles office who was arrested Oct. 2, 1984, on charges of passing documents to agents of the Soviet Union in exchange for money and sex.
Interviews with jurors by Times reporters revealed these additional facts about the deliberations and the problems that led to the jury's deadlock:
- The jury took its first vote after three days of deliberations and remained deadlocked from that time on, with Hennes and Rivera in favor of acquittal. Rivera modified his position the day before the mistrial was declared, voting for conviction on three of the seven charges against Miller. But Hennes held out for acquittal on all charges.
- The two holdouts told other jurors that they were skeptical about the testimony of a key government witness, former FBI Agent John Hunt, who had attempted to recruit convicted Soviet spy Svetlana Ogorodnikova to work as an FBI informant before she met Miller. Ogorodnikova had claimed that she had a sexual affair with Hunt, as well as with Miller, but Hunt had denied the charge.
- While some jurors praised Hennes for standing by her convictions, they disclosed that there was friction with Rivera. One juror identified Rivera as the juror who had insisted that three days of testimony be re-read to the jury, a time-consuming process that angered some members of the jury.
Saylor Most Outspoken
The most outspoken of the jurors who favored conviction was Saylor, who said he decided to talk because he thinks that the "taxpayers" have a right to know what went on inside the jury room.