Would-be juror is out of jail
[West Palm Beach, FL]

From the Orlando Sentinel
May 10, 2001

WEST PALM BEACH -- A judge freed a prospective juror from jail Wednesday and will deal later with accusations that the man shared details about the killing of an Orlando police officer with others who might be chosen for the jury in the first-degree murder case.

While gas station manager David Silvers, 61, was free again after a night behind bars, lawyers scrambled all day to determine how much damage he did. After individually questioning the remaining 35 prospective jurors, they determined that most of Silvers' comments apparently were confined to a small segment of the jury pool. Most of those potential jurors already had been dismissed on Tuesday.

Prospective jurors aren't supposed to talk about or research the case they may be called on to decide. But a juror said Silvers showed her a newspaper article about the case and others said he talked about it.

The problem has forced jury selection into a fourth day today in the case against Emmanuel Jimmy Saint Nattis, 22. He is charged with killing Officer George DeSalvia and paralyzing Officer Eddie Diaz on Feb. 3, 2000, when they stopped him for a traffic violation on John Young Parkway.

The case was moved to West Palm Beach because of publicity. Opening statements are expected late today.

Jury selection has been more complicated than expected, and 125 people have undergone scrutiny. Strong opinions for or against the death penalty and feelings about the death of a police officer have disqualified many people.

If jurors find Saint Nattis guilty of first-degree murder, they must recommend whether he receive life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty. Orange Circuit Judge Bob Wattles will have the final say. Saint Nattis already is serving a 135-year federal prison term for crimes related to the killing.

Silvers will appear before the judge next week for possible contempt of court penalties. But Wattles said in court Wednesday that a night in jail likely has already taught Silvers a lesson. Silvers' lawyer, Robert Gershman, said his client was nervous, scared and crying through his ordeal.

He said Silvers didn't remember hearing the judge's instruction not to talk or read about the case. Several other jurors also didn't remember or heed the instruction, including a lawyer who surfed the Internet and found an article about the case. Although defense lawyer Don West wanted him thrown in jail also, the judge declined and dismissed the potential juror.

Silvers' lawyer said his client had no idea what kind of trouble his actions could cause.

"He wants to get on his knees and apologize," Gershman said.

Debbie Salamone Wickham can be reached at 407-420-5456 or dsalamone@orlandosentinel.com. Copyright © 2001, Orlando Sentinel
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