Back to square one in the trial of Fred Cooper.
In a major setback for the day, Judge Thomas Reese dismissed the remaining jury panel after Cooper and a potential juror came face to face while the defendant was wearing handcuffs.
Defense attorneys brought the issue before Reese after a 20-minute recess. Sight of the handcuffs could have prejudiced a juror.
“I don’t know if anybody even saw (the handcuffs),” a Pinellas County deputy told the judge.
The interaction occurred after either the juror or Cooper was on an elevator that stopped on the wrong floor. When the doors opened, Cooper was standing handcuffed, across from the juror.
“I’m going to discharge this panel,” he said. “Get a new panel and start all over again.”
The dismissal of the remaining 41 potential jurors unravels the progress of the day.
Jury selection will move to a Clearwater courtroom on Wednesday, where a new jury pool will be convened.
Court will be back in session at 9:00 a.m. at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center in Clearwater.
On Thursday, the trial will return to the St. Petersburg Judicial Building, the site of today’s proceedings. If a full fourteen jurors haven’t been seated by that point, another jury panel will be available at the Judicial Building.
Jurors in the first trial talk about their deliberations. I love it when you can get the thinking that went into the verdict, or lack thereof, as in this case.