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Trial to start for man accused of bilking couple

Published Aug. 24, 2005

Jury selection was completed Monday, and opening arguments are scheduled to begin today in the trial of Maurice McDaniel, an Inverness man charged with bilking an elderly couple of about $450,000.

McDaniel, 58, faces five charges: two counts of exploitation of an elderly person, two counts of grand theft of more than $100,000 and one count of organized fraud.

Defense attorney Pat Dougherty and prosecutor Phil Hanson questioned dozens of prospective jurors until about 1 p.m. Monday, eventually selecting six to consider the McDaniel case.

Dougherty hinted at his defense by questioning whether prospective jurors agreed that a person is entitled to give away his money to whomever he chooses, regardless of whether others, such as relatives, think they have a claim to the estate.

He also mentioned that his client cannot read, which may play a part in the defense in terms of McDaniel's ability to understand documents.

McDaniel and his wife, Anne Marie, were arrested in February 2002 after authorities accused them of swindling about $450,000 from Harry and Mildred Edgerly and failing to provide adequate care for Mrs. Edgerly after her husband died.

Anne Marie McDaniel made a deal with prosecutors in early 2004: In exchange for her testimony against her husband, the state dropped six of the seven charges against her. The couple was divorcing.

The trial was expected to last about one week. Circuit Judge Ric Howard will preside.