By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One day after a defendant in the Philadelphia clergy abuse case pleaded guilty, the attorneys for two co-defendants have asked for a new jury panel because, they argue, this one was tainted by the latest developments.
Edward Avery, 69, who sat alongside co-defendants Msgr. William Lynn and Father James Brennan during jury selection, is now out of the case. He has pleaded guilty and has been sentenced (see related story), and the prosecution says he has not agreed to testify against his fellow defendants.
But attorneys for Lynn and Brennan have cited the local and national coverage of the Avery development, saying there is no way jurors could have avoided it and not been prejudiced by it.
But the prosecution counters that jurors should be questioned individually about whether they heard or saw the coverage and if they can still be fair and impartial jurors.
Prosecuting attorneys argue further that the jury should be told about the guilty plea to explain Avery’s absence from the courtroom.
The judge said she will consider the issue over the weekend, and is expected to rule Monday, when opening statements in the case are scheduled to begin.
Brennan is charged with sexually abusing a boy. Lynn is charged with endangering children by not removing known predator priests from ministry. They have both pleaded not guilty.