Blank’s first murder trial gets under way

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 1999

L’Observateur / August 18, 1999

HOUMA-The first murder trial of accused serial killer, Daniel Blank, got under way Monday in Houma with the long and tedious process of picking a jury.

Blank, who is accused of killing six people in the River Parishes between 1997 and 1998 is on trial for the death of Lillian Philippe, a 71-year-old Gonzales women who was beaten and stabbed to death in her home in April 1997.

Because of media publicity, state District Judge, John L. Peytavin orderedthe trial venue moved from Ascension Parish to Houma.

Over 130 Terrebone Parish residents subpoenaed for jury duty have showed up at the George Arceneuax Jr. Courthouse in Houma, but no onewas chosen on Monday.

Blank’s lawyer, Glenn Cortello had requested that the venue be changed again, claiming Terrebone Parish residents could still be influenced by local publicity. Peytavin denied Cortello’s motion.With a defense witness list of over 88, and the slow process of jury selection, the trial is expected to run about six weeks.

Jury selection in capital murder trials takes longer because only potential jurors who say they are not opposed to the death penalty can be considered.

After the Houma trial, Blank will be tried on October 11 for three murders in St. John the Baptist Parish. After that he goes to St. James Parish for amurder in Paulina, and then finally one last trial for another Ascension Parish murder.

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