Jury picked in cult leaders trial
Jan. 6, 2004
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday January 6, 2004
York, the leader of the mostly black United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, faces 13 federal counts of child molestation and racketeering.
Hundreds of his supporters have demonstrated at Yorks previous hearings, dressed in American Indian garb and beating drums, but only about 10 family members appeared at the federal courthouse in Brunswick on Monday.
Dozens of police put on a show of strength around the courthouse Monday, with armed officers patrolling the rooftops and the surroundings of the courthouse.
But the anticipated crowd of Yorks supporters did not materialize.
Yorks attorney, Adrian Patrick, told The Macon Telegraph he was satisfied with the racial makeup of the jury.
He said the facts will make Yorks case, not the diversity of the jury.
Opening arguments in the trial were expected to be made Tuesday morning.
There are five men and 11 women on the jury, four of whom are alternates. Court officials wouldnt say which of the 16 jurors are the alternates.
The trial was moved 225 miles from Macon to Brunswick because of pretrial publicity.
Authorities have worried that Nuwaubian supporters could disrupt the trial by intimidating jurors and handing out anti-government literature.
There were (fewer) people than we expected, but there is still the chance that more will come out when the actual trial begins, said Sgt. Kevin Jones of Brunswick Police Department.
U.S. District Court Judge Ashley Royal has closed the proceedings to all but the media and those involved in the case to prevent outbursts from Yorks followers and banned protests outside the courtroom.
However, police have designated the parking lot of the United Methodist Activity Center, a block from the courthouse, as a protest area Nuwaubians and other York supporters.
As of Friday afternoon, no one had applied for a permit to demonstrate there, which they would have to have in order to demonstrate legally, said Jones.
York, 58, aka Chief Black Thunderbird Eagle, has unsuccessfully argued he has American Indian heritage and should not be judged by the U.S. court system. Prosecutors have said they plan to make a case that York used his status as a religious leader for sex and money, enriching himself, marrying several women and abusing young girls who were part of his sect.
York has maintained hes being unfairly prosecuted because of a vendetta by small-town authorities who dislike the mostly black members of his cult for their unusual practices and a neo-Egyptian compound that includes pyramid-like structures complete with hieroglyphics.
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