Blank jury picks drag

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2000

L’Observateur / March 29, 2000

MARKSVILLE-After 21 days of jury selection in the Daniel Blank murder trial, only eight jurors have been sworn in by District Judge Sterling Snowdy.

Snowdy is looking for 15 people, 12 jurors and three alternates.

In a phone conversation from Marksville, Snowdy said that as of Monday, they had,”eight permanent jurors, and two provisional jurors.”Snowdy, who had ordered the jury selection to take place in Marksville in Avoyelles Parish in hopes of finding 15 people who have not been exposed to publicity of the six murders that authorities say Blank committed, said finding the necessary jurors is not going that well.

Prosecutors and Blank’s attorneys are having a difficult time finding potential jurors who do not have any knowledge of the Blank murders.

“Publicity is the biggest problem,” said Snowdy, “Last week we had people telling us that they had heard of the murders on TV and in the newspaper.

This week, we are hearing people say they have heard of the case through a friend, neighbor or relative. It is word-of-mouth.”Adding to the difficulties is the fact that many residents of Avoyelles Parish are ignoring subpoenas to show up for jury duty.

Two hundred people were ordered to show up at the Marksville courthouse last Wednesday. Only 58 showed up, and of those 45 pleaded hardships thatprevented them from serving or they had previous knowledge of the case.

None of the remaining 13 were seated as jurors.

By Monday, over 2,000 residents of Avoyelles Parish had been called in for jury duty.

Snowdy said that out of 70 people they called in on Monday, 40 of them had to be dismissed, because of publicity.

Those chosen to the jury are being sequestered in Marksville. When the 15needed are finally chosen, they will all be transferred to St. John Parishwhere they will be sequestered for the duration of the trial.

At this time, Snowdy is not making any predictions on when a jury will be seated.

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