Jury to settle Pennsylvania brothers' fight over lottery loot

CARLISLE Pa. Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:21pm EDT

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CARLISLE Pa. (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania jury on Wednesday began deliberating whether two estranged brothers must split the winnings from a $1 million lottery ticket, or whether one gets to keep it all.

Judge Christylee Peck in Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas told jurors they must decide whether Ira Sharp was telling the truth when he testified that his half brother, Charles Meehan, had agreed to split the winnings after Sharp gave Meehan a $20 bill to purchase a "Hot Million" scratch-off ticket.

"Competent people are free to make a bargain," the judge said, sending the jurors off to deliberate shortly after noon.

She told the jurors that for Sharp to win they must find that a valid offer to split the winnings existed, Meehan accepted the deal, there was something in the deal for both brothers, and, if there was a contract, Meehan violated it.

Sharp, 52, and Meehan, 45, both of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, purchased the winning ticket while drinking at a local bar on May 21, 3013. Sharp contends he gave his brother a $20 bill to buy the ticket after Meehan ran out of money with the understanding that they would split the million dollars if the ticket turned out to be a winner.

"No one else claimed to have heard that offer," Douglas Miller, Meehan's lawyer, said in the closing remarks.

R. Mark Thomas, Sharp's attorney, told the jury: "Only two people know for certain." He added, "Your task is to determine who to believe."

The brothers have not spoken to one another since Sharp filed the lawsuit in the summer of 2013.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Will Dunham)

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