вторник, 10 июня 2008 г.

The Selenski trial

Hugo Selenski isn't one to shy away from cameras.

He often smirks at television, radio and print reporters after hearings and offers a quick remark.

Selenski had plenty of cameras to glance into during the first day of his trial on double-homicide charges on Wednesday as reporters from local, regional and national media organizations swarmed the courthouse.

"In the six years I've been here, I haven't seen the volume or diversity of the media like this," said Luzerne County Sheriff Barry Stankus.

Three of the nine available seating isles in Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.'s courtroom have been reserved for the media. Reporters from CNN, MSNBC, The Associated Press and FOX 29 in Philadelphia attended the trial on Tuesday along with members of the local media, which includes at least three newspapers and two television stations.

Because of the media attention, the typical instruction to jurors not to read local newspapers or watch the news was expanded by the judge to include a ban on all national news programs and newspapers.

"You'll be out of the loop for a while," Olszewski said.

"This case is fascinating and bizarre, I don't think anyone can deny that," said Gerald Kolpan, a reporter for FOX 29 in Philadelphia for almost 20 years. "When you get a case with so many elements with a defendant who has dodged so many bullets, it makes it an interesting story and interesting stories are what our viewers want."

FOX video photographer Bryan Zilai said he can't remember his station traveling to Wilkes-Barre for any other story in his 10 years there.

Before testimony began Wednesday, Selenski's attorney, Demetrius Fannick, sat down with MSNBC to do an interview. He said this is the first time he's been involved in a case that has generated so much interest, but doesn't consider it a distraction.

"Quite honestly I'm just trying to stay focused and do my job," Fannick said. "I would do the same job if no one was here. It's difficult because it takes time to accommodate everyone."

While leaving the courthouse for the day, a handcuffed Selenski on his way back to jail greeted the expanded media contingent and said he felt the day went well.

"He (Hugo) has certainly generated some publicity," Fannick said. "He is who he is. He's likable and charismatic."

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