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Attorney Seeks Confidential Pre-Trial Hearing Ahead of Dorm Fire Trial

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The Commonwealth Attorney prosecuting the man accused of starting a Murray State dorm fire 14 years ago wants some of the pre-trial proceedings held behind closed doors.

Jerry Wayne Walker faces charges related to the 1998  fire in Hester Hall  that killed fellow student Michael Minger. 

Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship says he’s made his request to prevent contaminating the jury pool  with evidence that may not be presented at trial. Calloway and Marshall Counties Chief Circuit Court Judge Dennis Foust says this move isn't entirely uncommon and he says jury selection processes are designed to weed out influenced jurors, "Hopefully we can sort those things out before trial through the voir dire examination," said Foust.

Attorney Blankenship says he’s worried media reports could result in a venue change. Both Blankenship and Foust say venue changes are expensive for taxpayers and inconvenient for trial participants. The next hearing in the case is set for May 4th.

Shelly Baskin works in MSU's Office of Regional Outreach and is a graduate student in Occupational Safety and Health. A roustabout from Memphis, Tennessee, Shelly first found his way into WKMS through the newsroom back in 2011 through luck, charm and force of will. Though he left news for another position, he still enjoys working on independent radio projects and volunteering for the station. He’s an avid disc golfer and occasional real golfer and is terrible at both. A lover of all things musical, Shelly is always ready to hear something new and unique.
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