Posted Jul 31, 2012 11:09 pm CDT
The judge warned prospective jurors not to talk about the defendant. But many did, and soon gossip spread about other cases in which Dontae Morris is also accused of murder.
It is now a real possibility that all 200 members of the jury pool for his Florida first-degree murder trial may have to be sent home so an entirely new jury selection process can begin, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Clearly furious about the situation, Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente said he would decide Wednesday morning what to do, the newspaper recounts. When he asked one woman why she ignored the written order he had distributed to each of the jurors, she told the judge she lacked self-control.
Although questioning hasn’t yet begun about anything other than what members of the pool have heard about the defendant, that issue, along with some scheduling conflicts, appears to have eliminated all but about 50 prospects from the panel.
“Next time,” vowed Fuente, “I’ll sequester 200 jurors.”