Mark Mulholland & WNYT Staff
Created: September 14, 2020 07:52 PM
For the first time in nearly six months, criminal jury trials are happening in the Capital Region. Saratoga and Washington counties are among those serving as pilot programs for the state of New York.
In Saratoga County, that means holding jury selection in the Saratoga Springs City Center. It's a highly unusual move to hold part of a trial at any place other than a courthouse, but there's more room at the City Center for people to spread out.
The main conference floor at the Saratoga Springs City Center is set up as a large courtroom. The bench is a banquet table stacked on top of a dais.
A mask-wearing Judge Jim Murphy holds a microphone to talk to 65 prospective jurors of the 90 who were called.
Each of them sits in chairs that are stationed at least six feet apart as the prosecutor and defense attorney asks them questions.
It's all part of an arson trial. Melissa LaPoint is accused of starting a fire at her Moreau apartment with her child inside. LaPoint is in custody, so the office of court administration has set up a makeshift holding area inside the City Center, outside the view of the jury.
Once a jury is seated, they'll hold the trial in a county courtroom in Ballston Spa.
If convicted of the top count, LaPoint faces up to 25 years in prison.
In Washington County, they're handling jury selection at the courthouse with prospective jurors spread out in different rooms.
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