Kentucky

Jurors seated in Pitino case despite request to reject pool

LOUISVILLE — A group of 16 jurors, including a pilot, a golf pro, a retiree and a stay-at-home mom, have been seated to hear the trial of a woman charged with trying to extort money from University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.

Attorneys selected the eight men and eight women Wednesday after three days of winnowing a pool of more than 90 people in the case of Karen Cunagin Sypher. Four alternate jurors will be identified at the close of testimony and arguments, leaving 12 to deliberate Sypher's fate.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to begin July 26. Along with extortion, Sypher faces charges of retaliating against a witness and lying to the FBI. She is accused of demanding college tuition for her children, her house to be paid off and $10 million. Sypher has pleaded not guilty.

In jury questionnaires released Wednesday, panelists described what they knew about the case, what they'd heard from family and friends and their thoughts on a variety of related issues, including extramarital sex.

The answers ranged from the mundane details to insults about the parties.

"She is a gold-digger. He is a scumbag," one juror, a retiree, listed among the comments he'd heard.

Jury selection at times became contentious, with Sypher's attorney, James Earhart, asking on Tuesday that the entire jury pool be dismissed, saying 60 percent of the panel had indicated they had formed an opinion on the case.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III released edited copies of the questionnaires Wednesday afternoon. The names, ages and addresses of the jurors were deleted, but home counties, occupations and answers to questions used to sort out jurors were made public.

The jurors selected for the panel generally said they had a sense of the basics of the case — that Pitino and Sypher had a fling in a Louisville restaurant in 2003; that Pitino said Sypher tried to blackmail or extort money from him.

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