Herald Examiner staff writer
Last Aug. 30, 225 prospective jurors were
brought to Department 101 of Los Angeles Superior Court, the pool from which 12
jurors and four alternates were to have been selected to hear the Angelo Marino
Mafia murder trial.
But yesterday, after almost eight weeks of
jury selection, court clerk Jeanette Marks drew the name of Soccoro Salsido —
the last one remaining from that pool — and still no jury has been named to
hear the case.
A new pool of 75
prospective jurors was to be brought into Judge Kathleen Parker's courtroom
today, and the monotonous and costly process of jury selection was to resume.
Attorneys on both sides said they are still weeks away from impaneling a jury.
Both prosecution and defense
attorneys insisted in interviews yesterday that it is not taking an unusually
long time to pick a jury, and that they are experiencing no special problems.
But court observers said the length of time and the number of prospective jurors
dismissed is highly unusual. They said it may eventually rival the current
record in Los Angeles County, the second Charles Manson trial, which eliminated
514 prospective jurors over 41 days of jury selection in 1971.
"It's dragging on and on
and on," said Ray Arce, director of jury services for the county.
"By the time they're through, it will have
taken as long, if not longer, than the Manson jury."
Jury selection has already
exceeded the time it took in such other major cases as the trial of Sirhan
Sirhan (15 days) and Leslie Van Houten (20 days).
According to estimates by the
county clerk's office, the pretrial motions in the case, which lasted from
February through the end of August, resulted in court costs in excess of
$70,000. Each of the 27 days of jury selection so far is estimated to cost more
The case originated in San Jose
Superior Court and was transferred to Los Angeles because of pretrial
publicity. So Santa Clara County taxpayers, rather than those in Los Angeles
County, will have to foot the expensive bill.
Marino, 55; his son, Salvatore,
31, and San Jose real estate salesman Joseph Piazza, 43, are charged with
murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and kidnapping in connection with the
October 1977 murder of Peter Catelli and the attempted murder of his father,
Orlando Catelli. A fourth defendant, Andrew DiDomenico, 32, is accused of
conspiracy, kidnapping and being an accessory to murder.
The indictment charges that
Peter Catelli was murdered because he had attempted to extort $100,000 from
Angelo Marino, the owner of a cheese factory, who is believed to be a leader of the San Jose Mafia family.
The jury selection process is dragging o partly
because of the many charges an defendants. And since both prosecutors and
defense attorneys are from northern California, the case is being conducted
only four days a week to allow the attorneys to return home and conduct other
business on Friday:
But one of the major issues of
contention in the selection process appears to be the racial makeup of the
jury. Yesterday attorney Barry Tarlow, who represents Angelo Marino, asked the
judge twice to declare a mistrial because, he claimed, the prosecutor were
systematically removing blacks, Hispanics and "young people" from the
By the close of court yesterday, the
prosecution had dismissed 14 blacks and three
Hispanics. Tarlow told the judge that prosecutor David Davies "is
deliberately using his challenges for keeping black individuals from this
Attorneys generally consider jurors who are members
of minority groups and young jurors to be more sympathetic to defendants
accused of violent crimes.
Tarlow's motions for a mistrial were dismissed, and Davies later, in an
interview accused defense attorneys of systematically removing whites. He said
that 18 of the 24 jurors dismissed by the defense are whites.