HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - On Monday U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett entered an order regarding the jury selection in the upcoming federal trial of Kenneth Fairley and Artie Fletcher.
Fairley and Fletcher were indicted in March 2016, on federal charges for defrauding the U.S. Government, specifically the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The order is to expand the jury selection from the Eastern Division, to the entire Southern District of Mississippi.
"This cause if before the Court sua sponte for the reason of intense media coverage surrounding the indictment and trial of the above named defendants in the Eastern Division of this Court which sits in Hattiesburg," according to Starrett's court order.
The Eastern Division is a division of mostly rural areas with the population being concentrated in the Hattiesburg, Laurel, Lamar County, and Columbia areas, with a large amount of prospective jurors from counties in the Hattiesburg media market, according to the order.
"The highly coincidental publication of numerous media articles regarding trial in the above styled case, causes this court to believe that the parties will have a more difficult time empaneling a fair jury from the Eastern Division only," according to Starrett's court order. "Accordingly, the Court orders that the venire for the trial in the above styled case be called from a fair cross-section of the entire Southern District of Mississippi."
Entry of Appearance:
Another motion filed on Monday is for the appearance of another attorney for Artie Fletcher.
Earl Denham, of Denham Law Firm, PLLC entered the court filing on the part of Fletcher to be part of his legal representation.
As of Tuesday, August 30th, the trial is set to begin Tuesday September 6th, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Starrett.