Mistrial declared for man who snapped $4.5M statue's thumb

In this Tuesday, April 2, 2019 photo, Michael Rohana leaves the James A. Byrne U.S. Federal Courthouse in Center City Philadelphia. A jury is unable to reach a verdict in the trial of the Delaware man who admitted he broke a finger off a $4.5 million statue at a Philadelphia museum. Rohana was attending a Christmas-themed “Ugly Sweater” party at the Franklin Institute in December 2017 when he entered a traveling exhibit featuring ancient Chinese terra-cotta warrior statues. Authorities say the 25-year-old took photos while posing next to a statue known as "The Cavalryman," then snapped off the statue's left thumb. The vandalism outraged Chinese officials. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

PHILADELPHIA — A jury was unable to reach a verdict in the trial of a Delaware man who admitted he broke a thumb off a $4.5 million statue at a Philadelphia museum. 

Michael Rohana was attending a Christmas-themed ugly sweater party at the Franklin Institute in December 2017 when he entered a closed exhibit of ancient Chinese terra cotta warrior statues. Authorities said Rohana, 25, took photos while posing next to a statue known as "The Cavalryman," then removed the valuable relic's left thumb and made off with it. The incident was captured by surveillance cameras.

The vandalism outraged Chinese officials. 

Though Rohana didn't deny he snapped off the digit and took it home, a jury deadlocked Tuesday on charges of theft and concealment of an object of cultural heritage, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Rohana's lawyers argued he wasn't charged under the right law. 

"These charges were made for art thieves — think like 'Ocean's Eleven' or 'Mission: Impossible,'" federal public defender Catherine C. Henry said in closing arguments. Rohana "wasn't in ninja clothing sneaking around the museum. He was a drunk kid in a bright green ugly Christmas sweater."

Rohana, a shoe salesman who lives with his parents, told jurors it was a dumb mistake.

"I don't know why I broke it," he testified. "It didn't just happen, but there was never a thought of, 'I should break this.'" He added: "Every time I see this video now, I'm trying to figure out, 'What was going through your mind? What were you thinking?' I don't know how I could have been so stupid."

A mistrial was declared. Federal prosecutors said they'll decide by May whether to retry the case.

The thumb was returned to China. Franklin Institute officials told the jury it has not been reattached.

People also read these

'American Horror Story' coming to Halloween...

Aug 17, 2016

The ghosts, vampires and other freaky misfits from "American Horror Story" are coming to Universal...

Target cuts outlook as it sees fewer customers in...

Aug 17, 2016

Target cut its profit forecast and a key sales outlook amid stiffer competition and its own...

Racers whip across Utah's famed salt flats after...

Aug 17, 2016

Thousands of racers have descended on Utah's famed Bonneville Salt Flats after two years of...

Popular Yellowstone River closes after thousands...

Aug 19, 2016

Montana is indefinitely closing a 183-mile stretch of the Yellowstone River and hundreds of miles...

Campaign, party officials insist Trump getting...

Aug 21, 2016

Top GOP and Trump campaign officials say Trump is getting back on track after some of the most...

In Daily Travelogue, we aim to provide rich content for the budget traveler. We only publish blog post that is informative and entertaining to add value to our readers’ user experience.

Contact us: sales[at]dailytravelogue.com