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YOUNGSTOWN Long weekend forces delay in trial of 2 cops



Published: Thu, January 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Lawyers didn't want to have a three-day lag in testimony, court officials said.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Jury selection will resume Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court where Youngstown policemen Mark L. Rakocy and Christopher Lombard are on trial for robbery.

Lawyers began picking a jury Monday afternoon and still had not seated a panel by the end of the day Tuesday. The trial could not continue Wednesday or today because Judge James C. Evans is attending a previously scheduled judicial conference.

Lawyers did not want to resume Friday because of the long weekend that follows; the courthouse is closed Monday for Martin Luther King Day.

Rather than seat a jury and begin testimony Friday, then be adjourned until Tuesday, the attorneys opted to wait and resume everything next week.

Not unexpected: Prosecutor Paul Gains said he's not surprised that it's taking longer than usual to seat a jury in this case.

For one thing, there are two defendants and each has his own lawyer, which draws out the process. Each attorney gets a chance to question the prospective jurors and excuse those he doesn't feel comfortable with.

"The lawyers are being thorough," Gains said. "Let's face it, you've got two law enforcement officers on trial here so it's going to be a little tougher."

Accusation: Lombard, 33, of Gypsy Lane, and Rakocy, 34, of Cordova Avenue, are accused of taking $480 from a Struthers man in the restroom of the Pulse bar on Market Street last year. They were off duty and not in uniform at the time of the alleged crime.

Both are on unpaid leave from their jobs pending the outcome of the trial. If convicted, they face one to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

bjackson@vindy.com




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