Hundreds of juror no-shows face jail time

By: Mario Boone Email
By: Mario Boone Email

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It was a brutal crime for even the most veteran detectives. Beautiful four year old Kayleigh Biggerstaff was beaten so severely, her colon ruptured, then she died. The man fingered as her killer was Rico Benitez, the boyfriend of the girl's mom.

Jury selection in Benitez's murder trial was supposed to start Tuesday, but Judge Rex Ogle halted the case when just 40 potential jurors out of 250 showed up.

"If people want justice for things like that, then they should be there to help," said Lucy Williams.

Joe Ward agreed saying, "you need to prove cause why you can't be here or simply just show up."

Judge Ogle was barely able to contain his anger at the no-shows. "People ought to, as my mother said, have enough brass in their butt to get up and do the right things by each other."

Ogle says he's fed up with chronic criticism of the courts, while some people continue skirting their responsibility. "It's called an oxygen thief, they're just taking up space."

The judge says he'll order the missing jurors back to court, this time to explain why they shouldn't be locked up with Benitez.

"The penalties for contempt of court in this situation will carry up to 10 days in jails and a $50 fine."

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