Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Former State Senator McAllister | Off Message

Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Former State Senator McAllister

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Norm McAllister in court in January - FILE: POOL PHOTO/GREGORY J. LAMOUREUX/COUNTY COURIER
  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister in court in January
Updated, 5:10 p.m.

Jury selection began Monday in the second sexual assault trial of former state senator Norm McAllister, and attorneys were having trouble identifying jurors who are eligible to serve.

By day's end, not a single juror had been chosen from among the roughly 100 people summoned to Franklin Superior Court. Selection was to continue Tuesday, and the testimony was expected to commence on Wednesday.

Last week, prosecutors from the Franklin County State's Attorney's Office and Bob Katims, McAllister's attorney, submitted a list of prospective jurors who they believe should be struck, either because they had formed opinions about the case or had other conflicts. That was based on questionnaires the prospective jurors had completed.

But Judge Martin Maley agreed to strike only half of them. The remaining ones were being interviewed one by one by the judge and attorneys.
McAllister, a Highgate farmer who had represented Franklin County as a senator, sat expressionless throughout the morning proceedings.

The trial, scheduled to last all week, is expected to hinge on the testimony of the alleged victim, a farmhand who lived in a trailer McAllister owns. She accused him of compelling her to perform sex in return for rent. Seven Days does not generally identify alleged victims of sex crimes.

Prosecutors are expected to play a recording of a phone call between the woman and McAllister — evidence that McAllister's former attorney described as "devastating."

McAllister agreed to a plea deal in the case in January, which required him to plead no contest to reduced charges that carried a maximum seven-year sentence.

But before he was sentenced, McAllister backed out of the deal, saying his attorneys had pressured him into it. He hired a new lawyer, Katims.

The first McAllister trial, based on sexual assault claims from another alleged victim, ended in June 2016 after the woman admitted she lied under oath during the trial. Prosecutors dropped the charges.

The allegations precipitated the end of McAllister's political career. He had been arrested outside the Statehouse in 2015 and was later suspended from the state Senate. He ran for reelection, but lost in a primary last August.

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