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Sunday, Mar. 29, 2015

Pittman waives right to jury trial

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

The jury pool was dismissed Wednesday morning for the trial of a Storm Lake man accused of murder after the defendant waived his right to a jury trial.

George Pittman, Jr., 33, is accused of the stabbing death of his wife, Keo, last September in Storm Lake.

Judge Frank Nelson excused the potential jurors shortly after 9 a.m. About half of the potential jurors had been questioned since jury selection started on Tuesday morning.

Paul Miller, one of Pittman's attorneys, said the defendant had been looking at his options after a request for a change of venue was denied in the spring.

Miller said Pittman decided to waive his right to a jury and have the trial tried in front of a judge overnight.

"He decided and felt he couldn't get a fair trial in Storm Lake," Miller said.

There were several reasons for the decision, he said, including an all-white jury pool and several responses from yesterday's jury selection.

"Several jurors were struck, but (Pittman) did not have a good feeling from the remaining panel," Miller said.

Also, Pittman's reputation in Storm Lake is another factor for waiving a jury trial.

"(Pittman) feels he is well known in town, and not necessarily in a good manner," Miller said.

Along with Miller, Pittman is represented by Thomas Magee.

The state is represented by County Attorney Phil Havens and Assistant Attorney General Charles Thoman.

The state alleges George Pittman stabbed Keo Pittman with a knife after an argument at their home last fall.

However, defense attorneys claim that Keo Pittman died of self-inflicted stab wounds, and plan on introducing testimony from a state medical examiner that her wounds could be consistent with suicide.

Pittman had been released from prison on parole less than a week before Keo Pittman's death. He had been serving for a charge for terrorism, following threats he made to inmates at the Buena Vista County Jail.

Opening statements are expected yet this morning.