PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Attorneys selected a panel of six jurors and one alternate to hear the obstruction of justice case against former Port Richey mayor Dale Massad on Monday. The jurors were selected from an initial group of 50 people.
Dale Massad, 68, is facing multiple charges stemming from his Feb. 21 arrest. However, this trial is strictly for the obstruction charge, which stems from a jailhouse call between Massad and then-acting Mayor Terrance Rowe, who was arrested almost a month after Massad.
- Judge To Allow Parts of Phone Calls As Evidence In Massad Trial
- Judge Denies Bond for Massad Ahead of Upcoming Trial
- "New Port Richey, The Only Port Richey With a Mayor"
- Petition to Recall Port Richey Councilman Reaches 2nd Round
- Trial Date Set On Conspiracy Charges for Former Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad
- Port Richey City Council Chooses New Vice Mayor
After the call, the two were accused of obstruction of justice and conspiring against a Port Richey police officer involved in another case against Massad.
Massad also has been charged with practicing medicine without a license, along with firing shots at deputies as they tried to serve a search warrant at his home in February.
On Monday, 50 potential jurors were brought into court from a pool of more than 200 people.
Circuit Judge Mary Handsel went row by row, asking potential jurors if they knew anything about the case, then speaking with them at bench before deciding if they could remain.
Of the first group, 24 told Handsel they knew something about the case. After speaking with the judge, 15 were sent back into the jury pool. Three more potential jurors were excused for medical and work reasons.
Massad's defense team previously said seating a jury could be a challenging part of this case due to the amount of media coverage their client has received since he was arrested back in February.
During a pretrial hearing last Thursday, Massad's attorneys tried to keep some evidence out of trial. That evidence stems from the Massad-Rowe phone call.
Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Court Judge Mary Handsel said there is no way to get into the obstruction of justice charges without the other cases coming up at some point during the trial. Handsel also noted there has to be some balance so that the jury isn't prejudiced against Massad.
She ruled that some parts of the call, including Massad's mention of the premeditated homicide charges against him, could be redacted. Other details, however, including a mention of one of the medical procedures Massad allegedly performed at his home, would remain.