San Angelo Standard-Times - Texas October 26, 2010
Jury selection begins in FLDS member trial
By Matthew Waller
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Attorneys in the trial of Keith William Dutson Jr. may have a jury selected by this afternoon, as the potential jurors will return at 1 p.m. for the final selection.
Dutson, 25, is charged with sexual assault of a child and is a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The potential jurors vented their views on matters of justice and religion at the beginning of the trial.
“I hate all religions,” one potential juror said with regard to a question about potential prejudices against the FLDS.
He said he would treat Dutson the same as anyone from any other religion.
Two others also voiced concerns of religion conflicting with state laws.
Some expressed hostility toward the FLDS, calling them wolves in sheep’s clothing.
In an initial address to the potential jurors, Brandon Hudson, one of Dutson’s attorneys, urged everyone to consider his client as an individual.
“We want to make sure Keith gets a fair trial because of who he is, not which religion he belongs to,” Hudson said.
A main source of contention regarded the possibility of probation, something that 36 of the 68 potential jurors said they couldn’t consider for a child sexual assault case.
For the second-degree felony in question, the law requires jurors to consider a sentence between 2 years and the recommendation of probation and 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
One potential juror said she could consider probation because of Dutson’s age.
“He is so much younger than anyone else who has been tried,” the juror said. “He is a kid.”
Before Walther appeared Tuesday morning, the potential jurors were busy filling out a questionnaire, silently, so that the only sound in the courtroom for a while was the fluttering of sheets of paper.
The questionnaire asked whether the potential jurors had ever been victims of violence or sexual assault or known someone who had been.
The potential jurors also answered questions such as who are three people they most admire, three people they least admire, and in what order they would rank three purposes for punishment: retribution, deterrence and reform.
Walther then gave a set of standard instructions to the potential jurors noting basic qualifications of age and residence and advising not to hold objections against people.
She also noted that the court proceedings may be different from what the potential jurors have noticed on TV.
“We know life is different on the East Coast and the West Coast,” Walther said.
Walther said she hopes the jury selection will not take the several days that it has taken in the past.
“We’ve met several times before to streamline the process, but inevitably there will be some things we need to take up,” Walther said.
Dutson is the seventh member of the FLDS to undergo criminal prosecution. The indictments against them are based on evidence seized in an April 2008 raid on the YFZ Ranch, an FLDS-owned ranch in Schleicher County. The raid was triggered by what later was determined to be a hoax phone call from a woman who said she was suffering abuse at the ranch.
This article was found at: http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2010/oct/26/jury-selection-begins-in-flds-member-trial/
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