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Jurors selected in Strain sex crimes trial; opening statements next

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:30 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A jury has been seated in the sex crimes trial of former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain.

Ad hoc Judge Bruce Simpson made the announcement on the second day of jury selection just before 4:30 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 26.

A 12-member jury was questioned at length for up to four hours and will decide the fate of the former sheriff.

The five-term sheriff sat tentatively as attorneys for both sides grilled dozens of potential jurors over the past two days.

Strain was indicted on numerous sex crimes including four counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated incest.

Attorneys for both sides have been painstakingly vetting citizens to determine if they can objectively deliberate.

“This is the most important part of any trial,” Fox 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti says. “These are decision-makers. A bad juror with good leadership skills can really steer from his point of view. It’s crucial.”

For Strain, the stakes couldn’t be any higher. He’s facing life in prison if found guilty of just one aggravated rape count.

Prosecutors have lined up 30 witnesses, including Patricia Finn, the mother of one of Strain’s alleged victims and long-time family friend, Mark Finn.

Finn says the sheriff used to give her son, a convicted felon, preferential treatment in jail in order to buy his silence.

“Jack used to tell me all the time that if Mark didn’t do what he said he’d ship him out,” she told Fox 8 outside of the courthouse.

Three other alleged victims are expected to testify.

Opening statements begin Wednesday at 9 a.m.

The trial could last up to two weeks.

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