Reporting Vickie Thomas
DETROIT (WWJ) - A federal judge in Detroit says she won’t delay proceeding in the corruption trial of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and three others amid concerns they can’t get a fair trial.
Attorneys for Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, friend Bobby Ferguson and former Detroit water boss Victor Mercado say coverage has been so intense there is no way an impartial jury can be assembled.
Ferguson’s attorney, Gerald Evelyn, on Tuesday asked for a change of venue.
He brought up a newspaper article out this week that referenced a so-call hold-out juror in a separate case for his client that resulted in a mistrial. Evelyn said the article was an “outrage” and would intimidate jurors in this case.
Judge Nancy Edmunds advised the attorneys to file the appropriate paperwork, but said she would not postpone or delay jury selection or the trial.
So far, 55 potential jurors have been chosen, including more than a dozen African-Americans and several minorities. Judge Nancy Edmunds wants a total of 66 jurors in the pool, from which 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected to hear the case.
Jury selection is expected to wrap up Tuesday.
The Kilpatricks, Ferguson and Mercado are accused of a sweeping corruption scheme at Detroit city hall. The government calls it the “Kilpatrick enterprise.”
All have pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, bribery and extortion. Kilpatrick was mayor until fall 2008 when he resigned amid what’s known as the text-messaging scandal.
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