By Matt McKinney
Star Tribune Staff Writer
ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- A juror in the Brian G. Fitch trial now fears for her life after a description of her was broadcast in the media, potentially identifying her, the court said Friday.
The woman’s work history was included in a description of the jurors chosen so far, and friends and family recognized the woman by the jobs listed, she told the court. The woman was chosen for jury duty Thursday, one of 11 chosen after four days of juror interviews.
Dakota County District Court Judge Mary Theisen said she’s likely to excuse the juror. “She is very scared for her life and hasn’t slept,” Theisen said.
It wasn’t immediately clear which media company the woman was referring to. Her work history was not published in the Star Tribune.
Fitch, who stands accused of gunning down Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick and shooting at three St. Paul police officers, allegedly hatched a plot after his capture to kill two key witnesses in his case. Investigators learned in late December that Fitch told another inmate that he wanted to target two witnesses, according to prosecutors. The witnesses heard Fitch say he wanted to kill police or saw him in the car that officer Patrick stopped the day he was killed, prosecutors said.
Theisen told the prosecution and defense lawyers about the fearful juror on Friday morning. She also told four reporters in the courtroom that she wishes they would be more sensitive.
The jurors are identified by a number, not by name, in court, but personal details of the life come out during jury selection as the defense and prosecution interview them. Some 93 prospective jurors were summoned to appear at Stearns County District Court to potentially serve on the Fitch trial. More than two-thirds have been interviewed so far, and two were chosen Friday morning. If Theisen excuses the fearful juror, the trial will have 12 so far.
The case needs 12 jurors and two alternates.