John Travolta extortion case charges dropped
Monday 06 September 2010
Charges against two people accused of trying to extort money from John Travolta after the death of his teenage son in the Bahamas were dropped by a judge today.
A judge in Nassau dismissed the charges after the prosecutor said the Hollywood star no longer wanted to pursue the case.
Prosecutor Neil Braithwaite had submitted a motion to drop the case after a jury had already been picked and a retrial scheduled for the two defendants.
"The Travolta family has said that this matter has caused them unbelievable stress and pain and they wish to put this whole thing behind them," Braithwaite said.
Ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne and his lawyer, politician Pleasant Bridgewater, were accused of threatening to release private information about the death in January 2009 of Travolta's 16-year-old son Jett at the family holiday home in Grand Bahama.
Lightbourne, who was among the medics who treated Jett, allegedly sought 25 million dollars (£16 million) from the actor with the assistance of Bridgewater, who resigned her seat in the Bahamas Senate after she was charged in the case.
A judge declared a mistrial in October after a Bahamian politician suggested the still-deliberating jury had acquitted one of the suspects.
Travolta had testified during that trial and one of his lawyers said in October that he had been prepared to testify again if necessary. But the actor said today that the delay in prosecuting the case had prompted his decision not to take the stand again
"The long-pending status of this matter continued to take a heavy emotional toll on my family, causing us to conclude that it was finally time to put this matter behind us," he said in a statement.
"Therefore, after much reflection I concluded that it was in my family's best interest for me not to voluntarily return to The Bahamas to testify a second time at trial."
Jett Travolta, 16, died of a seizure while the family were on holiday in the Bahamas. Travolta confirmed after the death that Jett was autistic.
Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston, who have a daughter Ella aged 10, announced earlier this year that they were expecting a new baby.
The Pulp Fiction and Grease star and his actress wife spent a year out of the public spotlight grieving for Jett.
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