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Juror Suffers Stroke, Tuffree Trial Delayed

September 11, 1996|TRACY WILSON

Testimony in the Daniel Allan Tuffree murder trial was suspended for two days Tuesday after a juror suffered a mild stroke and was hospitalized in Santa Barbara.

The female juror was not in court when she had the stroke Monday. The court was in recess that day to discuss a motion filed by Tuffree's attorneys.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Allan L. Steele called the remaining 11 members of the jury and four alternates into his courtroom late Tuesday morning to break the news.

"We have been informed that she can return on Thursday," he said, explaining that attorneys in the case preferred a two-day recess over replacing the juror six weeks into the trial.

"We are reluctant to break up the present configuration of the jury," Steele said.

Steele asked the woman's doctor if the stress of the trial had contributed to her stroke, but the doctor indicated that it had not, Steele said outside the presence of the jury.

The prosecution rested its case in the high-profile murder trial last week after five weeks of testimony by about 50 witnesses.

Tuffree, 49, is on trial for killing Simi Valley Police Officer Michael Clark on Aug. 4, 1995, and faces a possible death sentence.

Tuffree has admitted shooting Clark during a gunfight that broke out at his home when police went there to check his welfare after reports that Tuffree was taking Valium and drinking alcohol and was possibly suicidal.

Tuffree's lawyers have argued that Clark fired first and Tuffree shot back in self-defense.

Deputy Public Defenders Howard Asher and Richard Holly had planned to open their case Tuesday but will now have to wait until Thursday.

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