Phillips trial will have local jurors

Jury selection is about a month away in the trial of Kathy Phillips of LaPorte County.

Some feel pre-trial publicity dictates that the jury should be made up of out-of-towners, while others are pressing for locals.

Phillips is accused of killing her baby around March of 2006. That’s when the body of a newborn was found near the Phillips home, by Kathy Phillips’ husband.

Phillips denies that she killed the child, and denies that she was pregnant at the time.

Criminal charges were filed about seven months after the baby’s body was discovered. The paperwork that came with the murder and neglect charges made reference to DNA tests.

Despite the amount of time that has gone by, attorneys for Phillips think the case is too fresh in the minds of potential jurors.

Especially potential jurors who read highly inflammatory comments that were posted on the website of a local newspaper after Phillips was arrested.

In court on Tuesday, the prosecution downplayed the impact of those comments.

"People can say anything, it doesn't necessarily mean they believe it. And it surely doesn't mean that other people who might hear it or read it believe it,” said LaPorte County Prosecutor Robert Beckman. “The idea is can we get a fair jury from this county, not whether somebody may have heard something, which they are perfectly capable of ignoring."

While the judge did take some steps to address pre-trial publicity in the Phillips case, he didn’t go as far as the defense had requested.

Judge Thomas Alevizos refused to move the trial or to bring the jury in from another county.

The judge did agree to call 90 LaPorte County residents as potential jurors, instead of the usual 60. He also gave attorneys on both sides more “strikes,” or opportunities to reject potential jurors without having to explain why.

The trial is scheduled to start March 24th.

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