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5 men, 7 women selected as jurors for Jane Orie retrial

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By Bobby Kerlik
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012

Opening statements in the retrial of state Sen. Jane Orie are set for Wednesday after lawyers in the case completed jury selection in one day.

Attorneys interviewed 94 potential jurors on Monday, before settling on five men and seven women in the panel and four alternates who will decide the fate of the McCandless Republican.

Orie's jury includes a Heinz Field usher from Avalon, a steamfitter from Brookline who works for Pittsburgh Public Schools, a physical therapist from Whitehall, a nurse from Bellevue, a researcher for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and a nursing student from Highland Park.

Orie, 50, faces 26 corruption-related charges stemming from two cases. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. charged Orie in April 2010 with using her taxpayer-funded staff to do campaign work. Zappala filed similar charges against her sister Janine Orie, 57, of McCandless.

Janine Orie worked as an aide to another sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. Melvin, 55, of Marshall has not been charged with wrongdoing.

The first trial for Jane and Janine Orie ended in a mistrial in March after Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning found the defense had introduced forged documents as evidence. Prosecutors filed additional charges against the senator in August related to the forged documents. The judge earlier this month split the sisters' trials. A date has not been selected for Janine Orie's retrial.

A woman from Turtle Creek told the judge and the attorneys that she couldn't be a fair juror "because I feel (Orie) is innocent."

"I think she's perfect," said Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, laughing. Manning dismissed the woman.

A man told the attorneys, "I've heard about the case. I have a problem with politicians. I haven't met one I believe I can trust." The judge dismissed him.

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