Sypher jury resumes deliberations - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Sypher jury resumes deliberations


LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Jurors have resumed weighing the evidence in the federal extortion trial of Karen Cunagin Sypher Thursday after failing to reach a verdict following two hours of deliberating.

As of 11:00 Thursday, the jury had ordered lunch, a possible sign that deliberations could take some time.  Karen Sypher had arrived at the courthouse about 10:45 Thursday to await the jury's decision.

The panel of six men and six women asked U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson if they could go home around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Sypher, 50, has pleaded not guilty to charges of extortion, lying to the FBI and retaliating against UofL basketball coach Rick Pitino. She's accused of threatening to go public with allegations Pitino twice raped her in 2003 – and that he later forced to get an abortion – unless he met a list of demands that included cars, a house and cash payments.

During closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors tried to paint Sypher as a liar, out for money and revenge against Pitino.

Asst. U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford told jurors, "This case is about a defendant, Karen Sypher, seeking a golden parachute."

Ford argued Sypher wanted Pitino to fulfill that list of demands in exchange for her silence about their 2003 sexual tryst.

Sypher claims Pitino twice raped her and forced her to get an abortion.

Pitino denies that, saying the sex was consensual.

During his portion of the closing arguments, Sypher's attorney, Jim Earhart, went on the attack, blaming police for a botched rape investigation.

And he also targeted Lester Goetzinger, a person authorities say placed calls to Pitino's cell phone in February of last year.

Prosecutors say he did so after Karen Sypher gave him sexual favors.

Earhart asked jurors to listen to the recorded messages left on Pitino's voicemail.

Exhibit #2

"Hey Why do something like that? But, naw, I'm not out to get money. I don't want no part of that, but I want you to do the right thing by that woman. You need to do the right thing, that's all."

Exhibit #3

"Within two weeks, the media will be notified of all the details and evidence of the rape."

Earhart argued the callers sound like two different people, even though Goetzinger admitted to making the calls.

Earhart also went after prosecutors for demeaning Sypher's character, saying "It's a classic and low attack to make her look like a whore... so (jurors) don't care."

Earhart also blamed Tim Sypher, Karen's ex-husband and a long-time Pitino aide, accusing him of trying to extort Pitino, saying Tim Sypher was guilty of extortion because he requested Karen write out the list of demands, which he later gave Pitino during a UofL basketball game in West Virginia.

Prosecutors say Karen Sypher's story is full of 'inconsistencies' and doubt because she waited to report the rape until after she was charged with extortion, telling her first ex-husband "'If I'm going down, I'm going to take Pitino with me."

If convicted, Sypher faces up to 26 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines – but that result is highly unlikely because Sypher has no criminal background.

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