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Lack of jurors delays murder trial

NATCHEZ — Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders dismissed a pool of jurors for the murder trial of James C. Luster Monday morning after only half of the called jury pool reported for their duty.

Jury selection for the trial of Luster, 21, 551 W. Stiers Lane, was scheduled to begin at 9, but Sanders asked the potential jurors to return at 8:30 a.m. today. She said the court did not have enough jurors show up to begin selection.

“This is what happens when people start ignoring their jury summons,” she said.

Luster is one of three suspects accused of gunning down Carlos Wright, 23, at his Scotts Lane residence in March 2012.

Deputy Circuit Clerk Charlene Gibbs said 29 of 58 summoned jurors reported for duty.

Circuit Clerk Eddie Walker said most of the jurors forgot to call his office to find out when they were supposed to report. Walker said a juror’s summons includes instructions to call the circuit clerk’s office to see when they need to report for duty.

“A message on the machine basically tells them when they need to come in,” Walker said.

The penalty for not reporting for jury duty is up to the judge, Walker said.

“They could be held in contempt (of court), but that’s entirely up to the judge,” he said.

Gibbs said she did not believe Sanders issued warrants for those who did not report for duty. She said, however, Adams County Sheriff’s deputies hand-delivered summons Monday to the original 58 jurors and an additional 50 jurors.