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San Diego

February 19, 1986

Jury selection in the trial of accused police killer Sagon Penn is to begin today in San Diego County Superior Court.

Judge Ben W. Hamrick met with attorneys and the media Tuesday to discuss ground rules for the trial, which could last four months.

Hamrick ordered that deputy marshals search all spectators before they enter the courtroom.

Penn's defense attorney, Milton Silverman, had requested that all those attending, except attorneys and members of the media, be subject to a search--not just blacks, as was the case during several pretrial hearings.

"The defense is concerned that inferences may be drawn by the jurors concerning the relative credibility of witnesses or the dangerousness of the defendant if this rule is not applied equally to all witnesses and spectators," Silverman argued in court papers.

Penn, 24, who is black, is charged with murdering San Diego Police Agent Thomas Riggs, 27, and shooting Agent Donovan Jacobs, 29, and Sara Pena-Ruiz, 33, a civilian who was accompanying Riggs as part of the police ride-along program.

The shootings occurred March 31 after Jacobs stopped Penn, who was driving a pickup truck. Penn says that he was provoked by Jacobs, who allegedly beat him with his baton and used racial slurs.

In court Tuesday, Hamrick denied Silverman's request to photograph each of the estimated 100 witnesses who are expected to testify, to help jurors recall key testimony at the conclusion of the trial. Hamrick said he was concerned that having photographs taken might have a "chilling effect" on witnesses' willingness to testify.

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