Judge delays Martha's sentencing. The three-week reprieve comes in the wake of perjury charges against a prosecution witness, opening the way for a retrial

By Gary Susman
Updated June 07, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Martha Stewart
Credit: Martha Stewart: Andreea Angelescu/Keystone Press/ZUMA Press/NewsCom

Martha Stewart may get a retrial after all. U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum agreed to delay sentencing for Stewart and her stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, for three weeks, from June 17 to July 8, and defense attorneys tell Reuters that the reason for the delay is ”to enable [the defendants’] motion for a new trial to be considered by the court before sentencing.” The delay will allow the defense ”to contend that the jury was unfairly affected by the alleged perjury of government witness Larry Stewart.”

Larry Stewart (no relation) is the U.S. Secret Service ink expert who testified for the prosecution on the likelihood that a key document relating to the homemaking queen’s suspicious ImClone stock sale had been altered. She was convicted in March of lying to government investigators about the sale, and at her sentencing, she is expected to face a year behind bars. Judge Cedarbaum denied a defense motion for a retrial arguing that a juror had expressed an anti-Martha bias and had lied in order to be empaneled. Last month, however, federal prosecutors charged Larry Stewart with lying eight times during his testimony, the Associated Press reports. He is accused of falsely testifying that he tested the document in question, Reuters reports.

Now, the defense lawyers will argue, the combination of the alleged juror bias and purported perjury should result in a retrial for the household mogul. On her website, Stewart notes the sentencing delay and says in a statement to fans: ”I thank you again for your uplifting messages and your caring — and I promise I will continue to do everything I can to help people bring ‘good things’ into their homes and their lives.”