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Judge, lawyer in shouting match at Central Park jogger trial

By BARBARA GOLDBERG

NEW YORK -- A shouting match erupted Tuesday between the judge and a defense attorney at the Central Park jogger trial when the lawyer said media covered the case soley because the rape victim is white and the defendants black and Hispanic.

By early afternoon, four jurors were selected for the 12-person jury that will deliberate the fate of the first three youths to go on trial for rape and attempted murder. All four jurors are male, one Hispanic, one white and two black.

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The defendants are accused of beating and gang raping the 29-year-old investment banker and leaving her for dead in a moonlit Central Park on April 19, 1989.

During jury selection at state Supreme Court in Manhattan, defense attorney Robert Burns touched a raw nerve when he questioned whether racial prejudice against minorities brought intense media coverage of the case.

'There was a racially motivated case in Bensonhurst and in Howard Beach. None received the kind of publicity as this case did,' said Burns, who is defending Yusef Salaam, 16.

'Objection!' said Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Lederer.

'Sustained. Don't make statements, just ask questions,' Justice Thomas Galligan.

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'Your honor, this is my examination here!' snapped Burns.

'I want it done -- ' the judge began.

'Your honor, you had no objection when Miss Lederer made statements about the law,' Burns complained.

'I sustained the objection, if you recall. I'm the judge here. Do not make speeches. Just ask questions,' Galligan admonished him.

'I'm getting ready to ask the questions,' Burns remarked, turning his back on the judge and facing the jury pool.

Burns then asked prospective jurors why they thought the case drew such intense media attention.

'Do you suppose it had anything to do with the fact that the defendants are all minority members, black or Hispanic, from a class that has no influence or power?'

'I'm not prejudiced. I don't know why,' answered prospective juror Juanita Rivera.

'Do you think it has anything to do with the fact that she is white from the upper class? Do you think it would be the same if the jogger were black?' he pressed.

'I think it would be the same,' Rivera answered.

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