Originally created 12/16/05

Fantasia allowed to leave jury in mid-deliberations



CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Lawyers allowed juror Fantasia Barrino, the 2004 "American Idol" winner, to leave a case in mid-deliberations after learning the singer had to attend a benefit concert in New York.

Barrino, a High Point native who now owns a home in southeast Charlotte, was chosen Wednesday to serve on a Mecklenburg County Superior Court jury in a motor vehicle negligence case.

"People recognized her right away," said Charles Keller, a court system administrator. "Jurors started coming up to her taking pictures with their camera phones and getting autographs."

Testimony took less than a day, and Judge W. David Lee sent jurors out to deliberate late Wednesday, Keller said. But when it became apparent that deliberations would continue into Thursday, lawyers agreed that Barrino was free to go.

Keller said he was among the court employees who had their picture snapped with the celebrity juror.

"She's just really nice, down to earth," he said. "Not at all what you'd expect."

Barrino, 21, was to attend the benefit concert on Thursday.