Jury set in Livingston Parish for trial of Melanie Curtin, opening statements set to begin Wednesday morning
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A jury has been selected in Livingston Parish, for the trial of, ‘The State of Louisiana vs. Melanie Curtin.’
Prosecutors with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, believe Melanie Curtin was the mistress of former high-ranking Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Deputy, Dennis Perkins.
Curtin is charged with aggravated rape and video voyeurism after investigators say they uncovered a 17-minute video of her assisting Dennis Perkins in allegedly raping a drugged and incapacitated woman back in 2014.
Dennis Perkins himself is accused of multiple charges, including rape and producing child pornography.
Perkins’ former schoolteacher wife, Cynthia, is also charged in the case and is set to be tried separately.
12 jurors and 2 alternates were finally picked by attorneys in the trial of Melanie Curtin Tuesday, Nov. 30.
During the jury selection, Brian Abels, District Court Judge for Division D, asked the potential jurors a number of basic questions about themselves first. Then he went on to ask some tough questions to make sure the men and women could remain impartial if chosen by the attorneys on both sides, to sit on the jury.
Judge Abels made even potential jurors fill out a questionnaire. He wanted them to be honest about if they have formed an opinion already on the defendant, Melanie Curtin. And if the people knew about her, or the charges she was facing, before they entered the courtroom.
Judge Abels told potential jurors that, “the trial is going to involve some sensitive topics and issues.” He wanted to make sure that they were okay with potentially viewing an ‘adult video’ involving sexual acts, as evidence.
Possible jurors were asked if they or a close family member had ever committed a crime, or been the victim of a crime. They were also asked if they or someone in their family was a victim of sexual abuse. A number of possible jurors were able to leave the courtroom, after revealing those details to the judge and attorneys in a closed and separate room.
Abels also asked potential jurors, if they had any bias or preconceived notions from media reports or social media about Mrs. Curtin.
“Both sides want to make sure they get a fair and impartial trial,” he said in court. “Both teams (attorneys) need to start at the same place.”
Some potential jurors throughout the day admitted they had viewed reports involving Mrs. Curtin on WAFB and other news outlets. Some people were also very aware of who Dennis Perkins and his wife Cynthia are, from the media, social media, close connections, and other reasons.
Abels also asked potential jurors if they would “Tend to believe law enforcement more.”
He reminded people that it is the burden of the State of Louisiana to bring forth the evidence. And that Melanie Curtin is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The judge then wanted to remind possible jurors that while Dennis Perkins’ name will be mentioned in the trial, the only person on trial in this specific case is Melanie Curtin.
Prosecutors from Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Office, Barry Milligan, and Erica McLellan, wanted to stress specifically what the charges Mrs. Curtin is facing in this case. They showed potential jurors the exact definition of aggravated rape and video voyeurism.
Prosecutors also wanted potential jurors to realize that their only role in the trial, is to decide whether the defendant is not guilty or guilty. And that they had no role whatsoever in the sentencing if the defendant is in fact found guilty after the trial concludes.
Attorney John McLindon is representing Melanie Curtin.
During his line of questions to potential jurors, he along with his partner gave WAFB a brief glimpse of what potential items or topics may be brought up by his team in the trial.
McLindon wanted to remind the jury, “This case has nothing to do with children.” And that his client was, “Only charged with two counts, from one night, in 2014.”
He did ask potential jurors if they knew anything about the Dennis Perkins case, so they could not bring what they potentially know about him and his former wife into the courtroom. He said, “Can you give a presumption of innocence to Mrs. Curtin?”
He also wanted to remind the potential jurors, that Mrs. Melanie Curtin has the right to remain silent and not testify. Hinting that she may not take the stand during the trial.
McLindon and his law partner called the 17-minute-long adult film video their client was allegedly taped on, a ‘3 some,’ ‘Sex tape,’ and a ‘Homemade porn video,’ In which the jury will see multiple sex acts taking place.
The 2014 video was between Mrs. Curtin, Mr. Perkins, and the alleged woman accuser.
Prosecutors with the Attorney General’s Office will present the video to jurors at the trial, as a key piece of evidence in their case against Mrs. Curtin.
McLindon asked potential jurors how watching the ‘sex tape’ would affect them. His law partner wanted to make sure potential jurors would listen to all the evidence instead of only the video, before making their mind up about Mrs. Curtin.
McLindon also asked potential jurors if they “have ever blacked out.” Or if they were familiar with the stories, about what the drug Ambien does to a person when they take it.
The jury is seated in this case and opening statements should begin Wednesday, Dec. 1 at the Livingston Parish Courthouse.
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