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Jury selection gets underway in Ray Sansom case

Jury selection began Friday in the grand theft and conspiracy trial of former House Speaker Ray Sansom and Destin developer Jay Odom. A pool of 21 prospective jurors was brought to Courtroom 3G in the Leon County Courthouse, and at least a half dozen people told Circuit Judge Terry Lewis they knew some details about the case.

The pool of potential jurors includes a lawyer for the Department of Health, a staff member in the Auditor General's office, an attorney for the Florida Electric Cooperatives Association, a high school mathematics teacher and a retired legislative analyst for the Department of Revenue.

The first potential juror questioned was a Florida State University political science professor, who told the lawyers in the case that he knew who Sansom was. But he couldn't recall Odom's name or that of former college president Bob Richburg, who'll be a key prosecution witness, and he said he believed he could set aside his prior knowledge and focus only on the facts in the courtroom.

"I knew there was an issue involving a relationship between the defendants and building an airplane hangar," the professor said, and that it involved a building "partly for emergency supplies or something like that." Asked what he knew about Odom, he called Odom "a donor who had been involved in the speaker-designate's political career" and was a "beneficiary of this building."

Both sides read off a lengthy list of potential witnesses, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, former state Senate President Ken Pruitt, former Sen. Lisa Carlton, state Rep. Matt Gaetz, FEMA director and former state emergency management chief Craig Fugate and state budget director Jerry McDaniel.

-- Steve Bousquet