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Jury Selection Starts in Einhorn Murder Trial

September 25, 2002|From Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Jury selection began Tuesday in the murder trial of Ira Einhorn, and attorneys for the former hippie guru said they may call musician Peter Gabriel and actress Ellen Burstyn as witnesses.

Einhorn, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend in 1977, spent two decades hiding out in Europe.

Jury selection began with a pool of 120 jurors, about half of whom were immediately excused after indicating they would suffer a hardship if forced to sit through a long trial.

Once selected, jury members will be almost immediately sequestered in a hotel, and allowed to go home only long enough to gather their belongings. Judge William J. Mazzola said he expects the trial to last until at least the middle of October. Jury selection is expected to last at least a week.

Attorneys for both sides read their lists of possible witnesses to the jury pool. Defense attorney William T. Cannon's list included Gabriel, a onetime acquaintance of Einhorn, and Burstyn, whose name appeared in Einhorn's journals seized by police, according to Cannon. He called them "potential character witnesses" but did not elaborate.

Einhorn, 62, arrived in the courtroom smiling and shook hands with bailiffs and courtroom personnel as he sat down. He consulted often with his lawyers as questioning started, and Cannon said Einhorn was "in on the decision-making of every juror who will be accepted in this case."

The onetime counterculture hero who called himself "The Unicorn" is charged with bludgeoning live-in girlfriend Holly Maddux to death and stuffing her body in a steamer trunk.

Her mummified remains were found in 1979, two years after she disappeared, when neighbors complained about an odor. Einhorn had told police that Maddux went to a grocery store and never returned.

Einhorn was arrested, but released on bail in 1979 after several prominent Philadelphians vouched for his character. He vanished on the eve of his 1981 trial and spent 20 years hiding in Europe before he was arrested in 1997, living with a wife in a converted windmill in France.

He was returned to the U.S. in July 2001, but only after prosecutors agreed to a French request not to seek the death penalty.

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