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Sheriffs take to St. John's streets to replace jury members for Potter murder trial

Sheriffs prepare to escort Allan Potter back to the lockup after court in St. John's Tuesday afternoon. After a day-long delay that saw sheriff's officer plucking people off Water Street and handing them a summons for jury duty, Potter's murder trial is set to begin Wednesday morning.
Sheriffs prepare to escort Allan Potter back to the lockup after court in St. John's Tuesday afternoon. After a day-long delay that saw sheriff's officer plucking people off Water Street and handing them a summons for jury duty, Potter's murder trial is set to begin Wednesday morning. - Tara Bradbury

When court adjourned in St. John's Monday afternoon, a jury had been assembled and was set to begin hearing evidence in the murder trial of Allan Potter the next morning.

By the time Tuesday morning rolled around, however, two of the jurors and one alternate had been dismissed, forcing sheriff's officers to take to Water Street, plucking 12 potential replacement jurors from their lunch break and sending them to Supreme Court.

It didn't take too long for the sheriffs to find a dozen possible jury members, once they went to the food court at Atlantic Place and upstairs to the gym. Those selected trickled in through the court doors, paper summons in hand and most with a curious look on their face.

In the afternoon, the jury selection process began as it had on Monday, with Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves reading the names of two dozen or so people he and fellow prosecutor Erin Matthews intend to call as witnesses over the next five weeks.

Justice Garrett Handrigan then informed the potential jurors to step forward if they were connected to any of those people, or if they had any other reason they felt should exempt them from jury duty.

While the rest of the already-selected jury waited in a different room, a new juror was selected. He lasted only a few minutes, however, before he, too, was dismissed.

Noticing a pained look on the man's face, Handrigan questioned the man about his work situation before dismissing him on the grounds of hardship. Another man was sworn in as a juror instead and taken to join the rest of the panel, while two women were asked to return to court Wednesday morning, in case any others are dismissed.

Potter, 55, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 39-year-old Dale Porter in June 2014. Porter, a father of two, was found stabbed in his North River Driveway. He later died in hospital.

Potter is represented by defence lawyers Randy Piercey and Jon Noonan.

A second man has also been charged with Porter's murder and will go to trial at a later date.

Barring any further delays, Potter's trial will begin Wednesday morning.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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