Jurors deliberate Pa. music church bias case

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A federal jury has begun to deliberations on whether the constitutional rights of a western Pennsylvania religious group were violated during a 2009 drug raid.

The Uniontown Herald-Standard reports that deliberations began Thursday over the Church of Universal Love and Music, which held concerts at a 147-acre farm about 35 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Fayette County officials didn’t believe the group was a real church, and prosecutors say the concerts were a cover for illegal drug activity.

In closing arguments county defense counsel Marie Jones asked jurors to consider whether law enforcement should have turned a blind eye to drug use when they discovered it.

But church attorney Patrick Emery says the county displayed a pattern of retaliatory behavior toward the church based on its religious expression.

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