Jury selection begins in latest Kevorkian trialJune 10, 1997
Web posted at: 2:49 p.m. EDT (1849 GMT)
From Detroit Bureau Chief Ed Garsten
IONIA, Michigan (CNN) -- Dr. Jack Kevorkian was a no-show Tuesday as jury selection began in his latest assisted-suicide trial, the first to be held outside the Detroit area.
Jury selection was being held at the Ionia Theater on Main Street, the closest place to the courthouse large enough to handle the pool of 160 people. Some prospective jurors were dismissed early, including one who said she attended the same church as the Ionia County prosecutor.
It was not immediately clear if Kevorkian planned to attend any of the proceedings, according to his attorney Geoffrey Fieger. The judge on Monday approved Fieger's request that Kevorkian not be required to attend.
Fieger began Tuesday by asking Circuit Judge Charles Miel for a change of venue, saying Kevorkian could not receive a fair trial in the conservative town of 55,000 about 30 miles east of Grand Rapids. The judge said he would take Fieger's motion under consideration.
Outside the building, disabled-rights activists -- many in wheelchairs representing a group called Not Dead Yet -- protested assisted suicide and Kevorkian's practices. "Admit you did it," they shouted.
Kevorkian is accused of helping Loretta Peabody, 53, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, to die in August 1996. The prosecution has no physical evidence against Kevorkian, but instead is relying on a videotape of Kevorkian counseling Peabody. The tape was seized about 100 miles away in Bloomfield Township.
In 1994, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that assisting a suicide is a common-law crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Kevorkian has been acquitted in three trials covering five deaths in the Detroit area.
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