Jury seated for Rizzuto trial
It took seven hours to seat a jury Tuesday for the burglary trial of Anthony Rizzuto, accused of taking part in a series of crimes last year in the Aspen area.
And even after the jury was seated, three jurors tried to talk with District Court Judge J.E. DeVilbiss, apparently hoping to convince him they should not be forced to spend the next three days in the jury box.
But DeVilbiss warned them off, and instructed the court bailiff to first take them to the jury room and then bring them back if they had anything further to say. The three seemingly thought better of it and went home for the night.
The difficulty in seating the jury stemmed partly from the fact that many of the prospective jurors know the defendant, his family or witnesses who are scheduled to testify. But the long day also was a result of careful, drawn-out questioning by prosecutor Lawson Wills and defense attorney Joseph St. Veltri, as each sought jurors who would not be hostile to their cases.
The trial is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. today, and continue through Friday. Wills will try to prove that Rizzuto, 20, was one of four teen-agers who broke into a Twining Flats home on Sept. 20, 1999, and made off with three shotguns and a Range Rover that was parked in the garage.
According to police, the group was planning to sell the Range Rover and a Jeep stolen sometime earlier, and leave the country with some of their alleged confederates to avoid prosecution for the crime spree.
The other three charged with the burglary – Moses Greengrass, Nathan Morse and Jacob Richards – cut plea bargains with the district attorney’s office earlier this year and are serving their sentences.
According to statements made in court Tuesday, several of the young men who have pleaded guilty to various aspects of the crime spree may testify against Rizzuto. They include Richards, Greengrass and 19-year old Yuri Ognacevic, who is serving a four-year prison sentence for his part in an armed robbery at Clark’s Market in Aspen on Aug. 5, 1999.
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