The murder and racketeering case of Chinatown tong leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow was given to a federal jury in San Francisco Tuesday after two months of trial.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer gave the jury final instructions on deliberations at about 1 p.m. following the completion of a defense closing argument and a prosecution rebuttal argument.
But Breyer asked jurors to wait until after lunch before beginning deliberations.
Then, outside the presence of the jury, he granted a motion by defense attorney Tony Serra to dismiss a juror. The motion explaining the reasons for the request has not been made public.
Breyer said he would replace that juror with an alternate. The action leaves one remaining alternate, who will be on call in case another substitution is needed in the future.
Chow, 56, became the leader or "dragonhead" of the Chee Kung Tong fraternal association several months after the previous dragonhead, Allen Leung, was murdered at his Chinatown office in February 2006.
He is accused of murder in aid of racketeering for allegedly ordering the killing, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to murder another rival, conspiracy to traffic in stolen liquor and cigarettes, and money laundering.
During the completion of his closing argument, Serra repeated his claim that tong associates and an undercover FBI agent who testified against Chow were not credible.
Serra described the case as "filled with frustration and desperation on the part of law enforcement because my client did not participate in any crime."
"He told them that week after week and it was true," Serra said.
The defense has argued that Chow reformed and renounced crime in 2003 after completing a federal prison sentence for racketeering and gun trafficking.
The prosecution alleges that while Chow pretended to be distant from the crimes committed by tong associates, he "called the shots" in running a criminal faction of the tong as a racketeering enterprise.
"Mr. Chow corrupted the Chee Kung Tong, he brought in a bad element to the Chee Kung Tong, he was controlling or at least approving of the activities and he was profiting from it," prosecutor William Frentzen said in his rebuttal argument.