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Defense asks to dismiss Pitino extortion case jury

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The attorney representing a woman charged
with extorting University of Louisville basketball coach Rick
Pitino has asked that the jury seated in the case be dismissed.

James Earhart, who represents Karen Cunagin Sypher, also asked
U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III to move the trial to
Bowling Green or Owensboro. Earhart filed a motion late Wednesday
night making the request, which renews a motion he made during jury
selection Tuesday.

Along with extortion, Sypher has pleaded not guilty to charges
of retaliating against a witness and lying to the FBI. She is
accused of demanding college tuition for her children, her house to
be paid off and $10 million.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to begin July 26.

A jury of eight men and eight women were selected Wednesday to
hear the case. Four of those jurors will be alternates.

Earhart said the jurors selected "all seem qualified and
dedicated to their oath to serve." But some may not have disclosed
a prejudice against his client, potentially tainting the process,
Earhart said.

"Because of the high profile nature of this case, there is
always a fear that some individuals will not disclose a deeply held
bias in order to serve on the jury," Earhart wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kuhn did not immediately return a
message seeking comment.

Comments made by members of the jury pool on their
questionnaires led to a sometimes contentious jury selection
process, with Earhart asking on Tuesday that the entire jury pool
be dismissed. He said that 60 percent of the panel had indicted
they had formed an opinion on the case and that some jurors had
called Sypher a "gold-digger" and "untrustworthy" on
questionnaires. He cited similar statistics and comments in his
motion.

A review by The Associated Press of the jury questionnaires
submitted by the 16 people selected to hear the case shows that
most have some knowledge of the allegations in the case. But nearly
all said they had not formed an opinion about the case.

Hundreds of potential jurors filled out the questionnaires, with
about 90 called for consideration as panelists in the case.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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