The McDonnell juror who could have changed history, Louis DeNitto, Jr., disobeyed the orders of a federal judge and discussed the case openly at a Richmond bar, a block from U.S. district court.
According to sources with intimate knowledge of the court proceedings, DeNitto was staying at the Broad Street Marriott, and discussed the case at the hotel bar.
"He considered the McDonnells innocent and didn't mind saying it," said a juror in an email Tuesday. "Judge Spencer was specific... Lying to the judge or discussing the case would cause severe consequences."
According to McDonnell juror Robin Trujillo, two U.S. marshals entered the jury room 12 days into the corruption trial and escorted DeNitto to Spencer’s chambers.
"The next thing we know, those two marshals come in and asked [DeNitto] to come out," Trujillo said in an interview Wednesday. "And he left, he just disappeared."
After a meeting in Spencer’s chambers with the McDonnells and attorneys from both sides, DeNitto was excused. Gov. Bob McDonnell emerged from the meeting visibly upset.
"We have no further comment on the matter," said Cullen Seltzer, DeNitto's attorney Wednesday. Spencer’s office also declined to issue a comment.
DeNitto declined to reveal the reason why he was dismissed in an interview with the Washington Post, but said the decision to remove him was “completely unethical.”
The McDonnells will be sentenced Jan. 6 in Richmond federal court, and have signaled they plan to appeal after the sentencing.