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Prosecutor: Jurors to get drug education

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 11, 2003

DADE CITY -- A prosecutor Thursday promised prospective jurors a murder case steeped in the culture of illegal drugs as the trial of Jonathan Dye "Cowboy" Jones got under way in Circuit Court.

But before testimony can begin, a jury must be selected. After a full day of trying unsuccessfully to seat 12 jurors, court adjourned for the day. Jury selection is scheduled to begin again today with about 30 more prospective jurors left to be interviewed.

Jones, 36, is charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 6, 2001, killing of 47-year-old orange grove supervisor Florentine Cano. If convicted, Jones could be sentenced to life in prison. The state is not seeking the death penalty.

As he questioned prospective jurors, prosecutor Phil Van Allen asked them about their feelings on guns and illegal drugs and warned them of the graphic case he expects to present.

"You are going to hear more than you ever wanted to know about crack cocaine and the use of crack cocaine," Van Allen said. "You are going to hear more than you ever wanted to know about what crack cocaine makes people do: rob, cheat, steal, prostitution, the whole nine yards."

The prosecution and defense went through about 40 jurors Thursday. Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb said if a jury cannot be selected from today's pool he might have to continue the case and start again from scratch in the future.

Jones has stood trial for murder before. He was accused of the 1993 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Kathryn Murphy, 36, but was acquitted in 1994.

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