No change of venue for Kwame Kilpatrick

Sept. 20, 2012 at 3:33 PM

DETROIT, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A federal judge refused Thursday to move former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's corruption trial out of the motor city.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds rejected a defense motion made this week as jury selection neared an end, The Detroit News reported. A jury was seated Wednesday, and opening statements are set for Friday.

Edmunds said the mayor and his co-defendants have a diverse jury that includes five African-Americans and a Hispanic. There are also three black alternates.

"Although it was a long, tough process, it worked the way he hoped," Edmunds said.

Kilpatrick, 42, his father, Bernard, Victor Mercado, who once headed the city Water and Sewage Department, and Bobby Ferguson, a longtime Kilpatrick friend and city contractor, are charged with an alleged bribery and corruption scheme.

"A perfect jury? There's no such thing," said Michael Rataj, Ferguson's lawyer. "It's as good as it's going to get. Now it's up to the government to put up or shut up."

The defense used all 28 peremptory challenges to remove whites from the panel, while five of the 14 potential jurors challenged by prosecutors were black. Edmunds rejected defense objections to the removal of black jurors and three people from other minority groups.

Kilpatrick has already served a state prison term for failing to abide by the terms of his probation after he pleaded guilty to perjury.

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