Three men, nine women seated in Frank Melton’s trial

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 7, 2009

JACKSON (AP) — A jury of three men and nine women was chosen Friday in the federal trial of Jackson Mayor Frank Melton, who is accused of violating the civil rights of two people by leading a sledgehammer attack on a duplex he considered a crack house.

Opening arguments begin Monday.

Melton, 59, and a former police bodyguard are accused of directing a group of young men to use sticks and sledgehammers to heavily damage the duplex apartment in August 2006. They have pleaded not guilty.

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They face 25 years in prison if convicted of violating the civil rights of the home’s tenant and owner. Jury selection lasted all week in federal court in Jackson.

Earlier in the day, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan III warned Robert Walker, Jackson’s chief administrative officer, and city spokeswoman Goldia Revies that they should not talk with members of the jury pool.

Under questioning from the judge, a potential juror said Walker recognized him from Vicksburg, where both men are from, and said hello and shook his hand.

‘‘Just to be clear, there was absolutely nothing said about the case?’’ Jordan asked.

‘‘No sir,’’ the juror responded.

Jordan said he was satisfied there was no attempt to influence the would-be juror. The man said Walker was the only person to whom he had spoken.

Revies had said earlier she ‘‘had absolutely no conversation with that potential juror.’’

Finding 12 impartial jurors and three alternates was a tedious process because so many people formed an opinion about the case.