Sypher jury questionnaires released - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Sypher jury questionnaires released

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By Bennett Haeberle WDRB-TV Fox 41 News bhaeberle@fox41.com

LOUISVILLE, KY --  A jury panel of eight men and eight women will decide the fate of Karen Cunagin Sypher, the woman charged with trying to extort money from UofL basketball coach Rick Pitino.

The panel, comprised of 12 jurors and four alternates, was seated Wednesday following three days of jury selection of 101 potential jurors.

The jury makeup includes a pilot, a housemaker, a nurse's aide and a General Electric retiree. U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson III signed an order Wednesday releasing the completed jury questionnaires, but the jurors' personal information including names, addresses and phone numbers had to be redacted.

A Fox 41 News review of the questionnaires found that of many of the 16 jurors seated Wednesday said they had little knowledge of the case and did not have strong opinions of Pitino or Sypher.

That same review found that many of the dismissed jurors had formed strong - sometimes negative - opinions of Sypher and Pitino.

Many said that Sypher "was guilty," while others had derogatory remarks to say about her reputation and that of Pitino.

One juror who was dismissed said Sypher was "a scam artist." He later wrote "I don't think I could fairly serve as a juror because of my strong feelings towards Pitino."

More than half of the 16 seated jury members are from Jefferson County while others came from surrounding counties of Oldham, Bullitt, Hardin and Spencer.

One female juror who was seated said she has heard others say "(Sypher) is crazy and (Pitino) is a liar and an adulterer."

Another male juror who made the roster said he heard others say "she is a golddigger and he is a scum bag."

But both jurors claimed they had not formed strong opinions about the case.

Sypher was seen leaving U.S. District Court Wednesday in the back of a Buick Roadmaster - she left through an exit not normally used by the public.

She and her attorney, James Earhart, did not speak to reporters.

Sypher is accused of trying to extort UofL basketball coach Rick Pitino in exchange for her silence about their 2003 sexual encounter. Prosecutors say she later threatened to harm Pitino's reputation with claims of rape unless he agreed to a list of demands that included cars, gifts and later $10 million.

Diane Yakovetz, who agreed to be interviewed, was one of 85 dismissed jurors.

"Now I am sad. I would have liked to be on it. I think it would have been interesting." said Yakovetz, who admitted she had very little knowledge of the case.

Sypher's attorney, James Earhart, wants the entire jury panel thrown out - claiming 60 percent of the pool had formed opinions about Sypher.

Earhart had until midnight Wednesday to file his motion asking to strike the jury panel.

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