Travolta Extortion Case Ends In Mistrial

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Two people, accused of attempting to extort actor John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, following the death of their teenage son, have been ordered by a judge to stand trial again.

A mistrial was declared on Wednesday, after the jury had deliberated for eight hours in the case of ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne and his attorney, Bahamian senator Pleasant Bridgewater. The two had allegedly requested $25 million from the celebrity couple in exchange for not releasing private information surrounding the death of 16-year-old Jett Travolta in the Bahamas in January.

Lightborne, who was among the paramedics who were called to treat Jett, is accused to having threatened Travolta and Preston with a document which released emergency providers from liability after the family refused an ambulance ride to the hospital. Travolta, a pilot, had initially desired to fly the boy in his private plane to a Florida hospital to be treated. Later, while riding in the ambulance, they changed their mind and decided to take the teenager to a hospital in nearby Freeport instead. Lightborne and Bridgewater claimed that this change of heart contributed in part to Jett’s death, and threatened to take stories about the signing of the release document to the press, which would have implicated the family.

Jett Travolta was autistic, and sufferd a deadly seizure while the family was on vacation on Grand Bahama island. He was discovered, unresponsive, by a nanny.

During the trial, Travolta’s attorney, Michael McDermott, also testified, saying that Bridgewater had told him that the “document would show [Travolta] killed his son or was negligent in the death of his son,” and had demanded first $25 million, then lowered the amount to $10 million.

The trial of Lightborne and Bridgewater had lasted about a month, and had included testimony from Travolta. The testimony phase had been completed, and jury deliberation had begun, when information was leaked to the press and to participants at a convention for the Progressive Liberal Party, of which Bridgewater is a member, that a verdict had been reached.

The jury emerged from the deliberation room and its foreman requested more time to deliberate, but instead Judge Anita Allen decided to “err on the side of caution,” and discharged the jury.

“About two hours ago, there was an announcement at a particular political party,” said Allen. “It leaves the impression that there may have been a communication in the jury room. I am going to discharge you from returning your verdict.”

She also ordered a retrial.

 

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