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NEW CASTLE Jury selection starts in Kimbell trial



Published: Tue, April 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Jury selection has started in the retrial of Thomas H. Kimbell Jr., despite a request by his attorney to delay the trial.

"I don't like the idea of picking a jury with a couple of issues up in the air," said Kimbell's attorney, Thomas Leslie.

A hearing is set for Thursday to determine whether a forensic pathologist can testify as an expert on behalf of Kimbell. Leslie had asked the trial be delayed until that matter is resolved.

Prosecutor Anthony Krastek of the Pennsylvania attorney general's office, who is prosecuting the case, has asked the judge to bar the testimony from Dr. Bennet Omalu, contending it's based on profiling, something not permitted in court proceedings.

Krastek said that matter shouldn't hold up jury selection and the trial.

Why the delay: The prosecutor noted his request to bar the expert's testimony came only last week because Kimbell's defense team was late notifying him of their expert witnesses. Krastek said that the list of defense experts should have been given to him five months ago but that he received it March 8.

Judge Dominick Motto denied Leslie's request to delay the trial, noting that whether the expert is permitted to testify shouldn't affect jury selection.

Slayings: Kimbell, 40, could face the death penalty if convicted. He is accused in the stabbing deaths of Bonnie Lou Dryfuse, 34, her two daughters, Jacqueline, 7, and Heather, 4, and her niece, Stephanie Herko, 5.

All four were found dead by Dryfuse's husband June 15, 1994, in their Pulaski Township trailer.

Kimbell was previously convicted of the murders, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted him a new trial because Kimbell's attorney was not permitted to cross-examine a key witness during the first trial.

Judge Motto started jury selection Monday afternoon, questioning about 10 jurors. He estimated the trial will take about two weeks once testimony begins.

The attorney general's office is prosecuting the case to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest for county District Attorney Matt Mangino, who once represented Kimbell in another matter.




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