Prospective jurors question timing of charges against Abril

Published 8:58 am Monday, August 4, 2008

The newspaper reports that the judge initially planned to hear evidence relating to the allegations behind closed doors. But Judge Guice Jr. agreed to hear the evidence in open court following a meeting with the newspaper&squo;s attorney Sam Neill.

Neill argued that the appearance of openness and fairness is essential to the public&squo;s confidence in the judicial system.

&dquo;If there ever was a case of people needing to have confidence in the system, it&squo;s a case where the sheriff is on trial for child abuse,&dquo; said Neill in a Times News article.

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Neill argued that it is appropriate for the evidence to be heard following the jury selection when the judge can instruct jurors to avoid discussing the case or reading about it. Jurors also will be instructed to avoid watching or listening to any media report on the case. Jury selection is expected to be done later this week.

Abril&squo;s attorney, Stephen Lindsay, had contended that it would be prejudicial to discuss the allegations of &dquo;other crimes&dquo; in open court. Lindsay says Abril &dquo;specifically denies each of these occurrences,&dquo; and adds that the charges are not supported by any witness other than the accuser.

&dquo;In this case, the defense is very simple ‐ the defendant did not do these things,&dquo; Lindsay wrote in a pretrial motion.