Prosecutors, Defense Ask For Juror Questionnaires Before Cercy Trial
The Natrona County District Attorney's Office and Casper businessman Tony Cercy, who is accused of three counts of sexual assault, have asked district court to submit questionnaires to potential jurors for the trial scheduled in February
Likewise, the prosecution and defense have asked Natrona County District Court to seal Rule 404(b) evidence -- other crimes not specifically related to the sexual assault case, according to court documents.
While the requests are the same, the reasons differ.
District Attorney Mike Blonigen said jury selection is a complex procedure, and having the extra information expedites the voir dire process.
It also will allow the court and the attorneys to identify jurors who may have issues in the case, Blonigen added. He submitted a proposed jury questionnaire based on a previous court case.
Cercy's attorneys -- Ian Sandefer of Casper and Pamela Mackey of Denver -- also want to submit a questionnaire to potential jurors before the trial to ensure a fair and impartial jury.
However, Sandefer and Mackey also cite the extensive media coverage of the case that may have influenced the jury pool, as well if any jurors have themselves or know someone who has been sexually assaulted. They, too, submitted a proposed questionnaire.
Cercy also filed a motion asking the attorneys be able to interview individuall each of the potential jurors.
"If, for example, a juror has formed an opinion about the allegations at issue in this case based on pretrial publicity and then recounts his or her opinion in front of the rest of the jurors, it may impact the ability of the remaining jurors to be fair and impartial," the attorneys wrote. "The same is true if a potential juror publicly discusses his or her experience with sexual assault."
In other pretrial motions, the state and Cercy also asked the court to seal file Rule 404(b) evidence of other crimes not specifically related to the sexual assault case, as well as any public hearing about whether that evidence should be sealed. Sometimes the court does not admit all that evidence, some of which may reflect poorly on the defendant.
Blonigen wrote he had no problem with that, and that depriving the public of that information would only be for about two months until the trial begins.
Likewise, Blonigen wrote the state would not object to closing the hearing about whether the 404(b) evidence should be filed under seal. The public and media must be notified of such a hearing, he added.
But he ridiculed Cercy's arguments that the 404(b) evidence is inadmissible, that the claims about adverse publicity are bogus because the media coverage of other hearings has been factual, and that Cercy has sought media attention for himself with other matters.
Court records say the alleged victim told a Natrona County Sheriff's investigator she and others arrived at Alcova Lake on the evening of June 23. The next day, they went to a residence on Cedar Drive North owned by Cercy. She said she went into the residence, passed out on a couch, woke up to find nearly all her clothing had been removed, saw Cercy was naked from the waist down and was sexually assaulting her.
He is charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault (rape), one count of second-degree sexual assault (intrusion), and one count of sexual contact "without inflicting sexual intrusion and without causing serious bodily injury."
If convicted on all counts, he faces between seven and 85 years of imprisonment.