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Jury selection still on hold in Zumba trial

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm •  Published: January 28, 2013

ALFRED, Maine (AP) — The defense and the judge aren't happy with delays in the trial of the business partner in a prostitution scandal at a Zumba studio. Prosecutors aren't happy, either, after the judge dismissed nearly four dozen charges.

But the unhappiest group of all may be the remaining members of the jury pool, who've gone five days without a jury being selected. Much of that time was spent hidden away in the courthouse basement last week.

"They hate waiting," said jury expert Valerie Hans of Cornell University Law School. "I'm thinking jurors would rather be in a courtroom listening to really challenging and difficult testimony rather than just waiting around."

Jury selection in the trial of Mark Strong Sr. came to an abrupt halt Friday after the judge dismissed 46 of 59 counts and prosecutors appealed. On Monday, remaining members of the jury pool were told to stay home.

Strong's lawyers expressed fear that the jurors could make the defendant a target of their frustration.

"There's no doubt they could take it out on him," defense lawyer Tina Nadeau told the judge.

Strong, 57, of Thomaston, was originally charged with 59 misdemeanor counts including conspiring with dance instructor Alexis Wright, who's accused of using her Kennebunk dance studio as a prostitution front.

Prosecutors say prostitution clients were videotaped without their knowledge, and the dismissed charges related to invasion of privacy. The remaining 13 counts focus on prostitution.

Potential jurors encountered their first delay Thursday when the Portland Press Herald sued over the judge's closed-door questioning of more than 140 potential jurors. The state supreme court ordered the judge to conduct the process in open court.

Remaining members of the jury pool reported back to duty Friday, only to be sent home again because of prosecutors' appeal.

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