Judge rejects defense request for criminal records of potential jurors in upcoming Knox County sex assault trial

Posted May 15, 2014, at 5:01 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Superior Court judge on Thursday denied a defense attorney’s request for the state to turn over the criminal records of all the potential jurors who might be selected for an upcoming sexual assault trial.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm ruled after a Thursday hearing in Knox County Superior Court that the district attorney did not have to turn over such records to the defense for Erik L. Vultee, 45, of Rockport. Vultee is charged with 10 counts of unlawful sexual contact, and single counts of gross sexual assault, visual aggression against a child, sexual misconduct with a child and unlawful sexual touching.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau opposed the request, saying there was no court rule or law that requires him to turn over such information. He told the court that he could not see how such information could be useful to the defense.

Hjelm agreed in his written order that there was no rule that allows him to require the prosecution to turn over such information.

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Defense attorney Steven Peterson said he has made the request in other cases and there has never been an objection. He said it was a matter of fairness since the prosecution has access to those records.

Jury selection is scheduled for June 9. The projected three-to-four day trial is expected to begin the week after.

Vultee was arrested in December 2012 and indicted in February 2013 for the offenses that are alleged to have occurred between June 2009 and December 2011 involving a girl who was younger than 14 years old.

An attempt in December to select a jury for the Vultee trial failed. The court was trying to select a jury in that case after just having selected one for another sexual assault trial from the same pool of 85 Knox County residents. The judge, however, did not want to use any of the same jurors selected for the first case, which reduced the number of potential jurors for Vultee’s case.

Peterson said in December that a lot of people also did not want to serve on a sex abuse trial, which reduced the number of potential jurors even further, and the second jury could not be empaneled.

 

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