August 21, 2009

Nuwaubian Nation leader trial may be closed to public

Associated Press/December 19, 2003

Macon, Ga. -- A federal judge may close the child molestation trial of Nuwaubian Nation leader Malachi York to the public because members of his religious sect handed out information about the case while marching in the Brunswick Christmas parade.

The trial is set to begin Jan. 5 in Brunswick. It was moved from Macon because of pretrial publicity.

Judge C. Ashley Royal told lawyers at a Macon hearing this week that he had someone monitoring what people in the Brunswick area were reading about York.

I was extraordinarily unhappy that members of the Nuwaubians went down to (Brunswick) ... and tampered with the jury pool. Whether Mr. York directed this or not makes no difference to me. Its going to make it difficult to pick a jury, he said.

Royal said he has also considered sequestering the jury.

The judge said if the trial is closed to the public, the media will be allowed to attend.

Lawyers said they expect the trial to last three weeks.

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