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Tedium, complaints and futility

Potential juror Beverly Vass watched enough TV to form an opinion of two defendants in the burning of Christopher Wilson: "I'm almost 100 percent sure they were guilty."

Joyce Russell knew of the "terrible crime."

Potential juror Gregory Burke recalled little until relatives in Pennsylvania filled in details about the burning of a New York tourist.

They were the jurors who knew too much.

Publicity made it impossible to seat a jury with "minds pure and unprejudiced," leading Hillsborough Circuit Judge Donald C. Evans to move the case.

On Thursday, as Evans began seeking a site for the trial, those jury prospects returned to work with stories about an unusual _ and frustrating _ selection experience.

"My life's not in limbo anymore," Patricia Roemer said.

The process of selecting six jurors and two alternates began June 7 and ended Wednesday. There were eight tedious days of questioning that included some potential jurors reciting details of the case, watching news reports on courtroom televisions and, finally, two complaining they had been recognized from TV reports.

Burke, 38, a postal worker, questioned the promised confidentiality when he saw the TV camera in the courtroom. Then, he watched the nighttime news and saw a shot of his stomach, covered by his red pullover shirt.

Leonard Murdoch, a 65-year-old retiree, read Presumed Innocent while he awaited questioning. He never expected the case against Lakeland men Charles Rourk and Mark Kohut to go to trial locally.

"I was well-informed about the incident," he said. Whether he could have remained objective through a trial is a question he asked himself. "You never know what you hide away in your subconscious. I still feel uncertain."

Glenna Garcia, 57, expected the trial would take place, but assumed her experience with burn patients as a nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital would disqualify her. Christopher Wilson, a brokerage clerk from Brooklyn, suffered burns over nearly 40 percent of his body. Detectives say Wilson was abducted at gunpoint, forced to drive to a remote field, doused in gasoline and set on fire.

"They asked me from the beginning what I thought of the burns. Burns are one of the most painful things there is," Garcia said.

Virginia Chambers, 52, a Tampa public school teacher, was prepared to be impartial despite all she knew. She found the selection process frustrating and time consuming. Ultimately, it seemed to her, the case should have been moved at the start.

"You had to have heard of the case unless you were comatose for six months," she said.

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