Originally created 12/29/00

Selection of jurors discussed



AIKEN - Lawyers for Arthur Hastings Wise, who is charged with murder in the 1997 slayings of four workers at the R.E. Phelon Co. plant in Aiken, met with the prosecutor and judge in court Thursday to discuss the selection of jurors in Beaufort.

Judge Thomas W. Cooper Jr. said that "matters of law and matters of administration" in addition to logistics had to be addressed prior to empaneling a jury to hear the case against Mr. Wise.

The judge said that "very little of substance in an open court forum" still needed to be done because numerous motions had already been dealt with.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin in Beaufort on Jan. 22, Solicitor Barbara Morgan said after the hearing.

In October, Judge Cooper ordered jurors to be selected from Beaufort County, saying a fair and impartial jury could not be selected from Aiken County because of the media coverage the killings had received.

After selecting 12 jurors and several alternates, the Beaufort County jurors will be transported to Aiken and sequestered in a hotel for the duration of Mr. Wise's trial. If the jurors find Mr. Wise guilty, they must remain to decide whether he should be sentenced to die for the crimes.

Judge Cooper said Thursday a hearing would be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 5 in Beaufort to deal with potential jurors who have legitimate excuses to avoid jury duty.

He noted that any potential juror who is age 65 or older and who does not want to serve can be excused.

Also during the Thursday hearing, defense attorney Gregory P. Harlow gave Judge Cooper questions to be placed on the questionnaire to be given to prospective jurors.

Mr. Wise, 46, is charged in the workplace slayings of four Phelon plant employees: Sheryl Wood, 27; David Moore, 30; Leonard Filyaw, 30; and Charles Griffeth, 56. Jerry Corley, John Mucha and Stan Vance were wounded in the shooting spree.

Reach Rick Green at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.