In the state’s latest pretrial motion for the capital murder case of Adam Longoria, prosecutors disagree with the defense’s request for jurors to be compensated at their current wages and reimbursed for day-care costs.
In the alternative, the defense states, the court should increase the flat rate paid to those called for jury service.
Barton County pays jurors $10 a day for their service, and those who live more than two miles from town receive 51 cents per mile. According to the state statute cited in the defense’s motion, fees are paid from the county general fund and the payment must be "not less than $10 nor more than $50, as determined by the county commission, for each day of attendance," plus "mileage, at the rate authorized by law."
Kevin O’Connor, special assistant attorney general, said changing compensation would go against state law and would not help Longoria to receive a fair and impartial jury. "The motion is without merit," O’Connor writes in a response filed Nov. 30 in Barton County District Court.
Longoria’s jury trial is schedule for March 26, 2012. He is charged with the premeditated murder of Alicia DeBolt, 14, in August of 2010. Although the state is not seeking the death penalty, Longoria has been charged with capital murder as the state alleges DeBolt was killed after the defendant attempted to rape her.
In October, Longoria’s attorneys, Tim Frieden and Jeffrey Wicks with the state of Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, filed the motion requesting increased compensation for jurors. "Absent adequate compensation, it is practically impossible for wage laborers and persons caring for young children to serve on the jury," their motion states. "The de facto exclusion of these groups violates Mr. Longoria’s rights. Daily wage earners and primary caregivers for young children are groups with a particular understanding of Mr. Longoria’s predicament. Very often witnesses for defendants, or even as in this case the defendant, will themselves be daily wage earners, or members of the poor strata of society. Jurors who have experienced the same deprivations better understand the predicament of persons such as Mr. Longoria, and may be particularly well-suited to judging his guilt or innocence."