Jury Deadlocks in Texas Southern Trial

HOUSTON

Jurors deliberating whether Texas Southern University’s former president misspent school funds to lavishly decorate her homes said they were at an impasse Wednesday, but the judge told them to keep working.

In a note to state District Judge Brock Thomas, the jury in the trial of Dr. Priscilla Slade said they are deadlocked by an 8-4 vote, but did not indicate which way they were leaning.

Jurors said they wanted advice from the court on how to proceed. Thomas told attorneys he would instruct jurors to continue deliberating.

Slade, 55, is on trial for one of two counts of misapplication of fiduciary property with a value over $200,000. If convicted, she faces up to life in prison.

Jurors also have the option of convicting Slade of a lesser charge, misapplication of fiduciary property with a value of $100,000 to $200,000. It carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said that during Slade’s more than six years as president of the state’s largest historically Black university, she spent over $138,000 on landscaping, more than $56,000 on a high tech security system and more than $100,000 in furniture and other home decorations, including nearly $13,600 for custom silk bedding and window treatments.

Her attorney argued that all of his client’s spending was done to improve the school’s status. He accused prosecutors of making her a scapegoat for TSU’s problems.

The jury is made up of six men and six women. Two men and one woman on the jury are Black.

The jury was given the case Monday afternoon, and has deliberated for nearly 12 hours with no verdict.

The spending scandal resulted in Slade being fired in April 2006. She and three other TSU employees were indicted a few months later for their roles in the misspending.

The allegations against Slade coincided with reports that revealed a pattern of financial mismanagement at TSU. The entire nine-member board of regents resigned at Gov. Rick Perry’s request.

Enrollment at TSU this fall, 9,544 students, is at its lowest in five years.

–Associated Press

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