Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury picked in sex abuse trial of former Clearwater fire chief

Former Clearwater Fire Chief Jamie Geer, left, and his attorney, David Parry, confer during jury selection Tuesday. Geer  is accused of sexually abusing a girl for several years.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Former Clearwater Fire Chief Jamie Geer, left, and his attorney, David Parry, confer during jury selection Tuesday. Geer is accused of sexually abusing a girl for several years.

LARGO — Lawyers picked a jury of five women and one man to decide the fate of former Clearwater Fire Chief Jamie Geer, who could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of sexual battery on a young girl.

Prosecutors say Geer sexually abused the girl over a period of about a decade, starting when she was 8 or 9, and ending when she turned 17 and talked to police.

When police first got wind of possible abuse, they interviewed her and she denied it. Then she confirmed it, police said.

She is expected to testify sometime today in what is likely to be a key moment in the trial. It is not yet known if Geer will testify.

Jury selection consumed all of Tuesday. Two people also were selected as alternates — one woman and one man.

Of the 70 potential jurors, nearly two dozen said they had read or heard something about the case. Those people were brought one-by-one into a rear conference room and asked what they remembered from previous media coverage. About half of that group was excused from jury service.

Each of these potential jurors sat at a conference table with the judge and attorneys. Geer also sat at the table a few feet from each juror who came in.

Geer — dressed in a gray suit, blue dress shirt and striped tie — often looked directly at the potential jurors with a slight smile on his face.

One woman said she "obsessively" reads news on the Internet and had formed an unfavorable opinion about Geer's guilt. It would be hard for her to change her mind, she acknowledged.

"Once my mind is set, my mind is set," she said.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico told her that as a juror, "the one thing we would want is for your mind not to be set."

Most people who said they had heard news coverage of the case did not remember specifics. Many said the media coverage would not prevent them from being impartial if selected.

"I read about it when it first came out and I don't remember details," said one potential juror, a former schoolteacher. She said she could be impartial.

When another was asked if she could base her decisions on the evidence in court, she said, "I would absolutely have to."

One potential juror said she was molested at age 10. Asked if she could be unbiased, she said, "No, not a chance. I'm barely sitting through this … I could not be impartial at all." She was excused.

A man said it would be hard for him to be impartial because, "I just felt that even to be accused of that is horrible and I wouldn't want anything to do with it." He also was excused.

Lawyers are expected to deliver opening statements this morning.

Geer, 58, has been held at the Pinellas County Jail since his arrest in December 2010. He faces charges of sexual battery, lewd or lascivious battery and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

Times Staff Writer Curtis Krueger can be reached at ckrueger@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8232.

Jury picked in sex abuse trial of former Clearwater fire chief 04/24/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 9:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In Iowa, the president channels his inner candidate Trump (w/video)

    National

    CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Struggling to advance his agenda in Washington, President Donald Trump traveled to the Midwest for a raucous rally with his loyal supporters — the kind of event he relished before winning the White House.

  2. Applications for U.S. jobless aid tick up to still-low 241,000

    Working Life

    WASHINGTON — Slightly more people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but the number of applications remained at a historically low level that suggests the job market is healthy.

    On Thursday, June 22, 2017, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits a week earlier. [Associated Press]
  3. Study: States with legalized marijuana have more car crash claims

    Accidents

    DENVER — A recent insurance study links increased car crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana.

    A close-up of a flowering marijuana plant in the production room of Modern Health Concepts' greenhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. [C.M. Guerrero | Miami Herald/TNS]
  4. Black lawmaker: I was called 'monkey' at protest to change Confederate street signs

    Blogs

    A black state legislator says he was called a "n-----" and a "monkey" Wednesday by pro-Confederates who want Hollywood to keep three roads named after Confederate generals, including one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

    Rep. Shevrin Jones.
  5. Senate GOP set to release health-care bill (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON -— Senate Republicans on Thursday plan to release a health-care bill that would curtail federal Medicaid funding, repeal taxes on the wealthy and eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood as part of an effort to fulfill a years-long promise to undo Barack Obama's signature health-care law.

    From left, Uplift Executive Director Heidi Mansir, of Gardiner, Maine, former West Virginia State Rep. Denise Campbell, Elkins, W. Va., University of Alaska-Anchorage student Moira Pyhala of Soldotna, Alaska, and National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson appear before Democratic senators holding a hearing about how the GOP health care bill could hurt rural Americans, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was expected to push for a vote next week on the legislation, which would eliminate much of Obama's 2010 overhaul and leave government with a diminished role in providing coverage and helping people afford it. [Associated Press]