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JT Burnette trial delayed after juror tests positive for COVID-19

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:22 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 11:43 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The JT Burnette trial has been delayed because a juror has tested positive for COVID-19.

A court document filed Wednesday says the juror reported their positive test result as soon as they arrived at the courthouse that morning.

The court says the trial will resume on August 9 if the juror has fully recovered, all others have remained healthy, and no further quarantining is needed.

The juror had no contact with the other jurors on Wednesday, the court says.

“There is no way to know how or when the juror may have contracted the disease,” the court’s statement says.

The statement goes on to say jurors remained socially distanced during breaks since the court is using two jury rooms. Everyone in the courtroom has been masked throughout the trial, unless they were speaking as part of the proceeding while socially distanced.

This would have been the trial’s 11th day.

Reporters who arrived around 8:50 a.m. were not allowed in the courtroom. The attorneys and judge were in a private conference until about 9:10 a.m.

When reporters entered the courtroom, both sides began discussing jury instructions with the judge.

The court adjourned just before 10 a.m.

This is the second time the trial has been delayed since it began July 12. On Friday of the first week of testimony, the case was put on pause after a juror was exposed to COVID-19. She was dismissed when the case resumed the next Tuesday, July 20.

Another juror was also dismissed the next day, Wednesday, July 21, after repeatedly falling asleep during testimony. That dismissal left the juror number at twelve, with no alternates.

At the time, Judge Robert Hinkle compared the situation to “walking a tightrope without a net.”

Burnette was on the stand Tuesday afternoon testifying for the defense; his testimony was not complete Tuesday and should continue when the case resumes. The Government rested its case Monday afternoon after eight days of testimony from prosecution witnesses.

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