Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 4, 2014

Jury selection under way in Mercer child porn, sex abuse case

PRINCETON — Jury selection was underway Tuesday in the trial of a Mercer County man facing multiple charges of sexual assault and possession of child pornography.

John Spaulding, 40, of Montcalm was arrested in October 2013 and charged with five counts of sexual assault first degree, one count of attempt to commit a felony, one count of sexual abuse first degree, and 50 counts of possession of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The two victims were ages 3 and 14, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said when the charges were filed.

At a change of venue hearing last week, defense attorney Harold B. Wolfe III argued that extensive media coverage and comments on social media would keep Spaulding from getting a fair trial in Mercer County. At the hearing, Circuit Court Judge William Sadler said the court would attempt to impanel a jury, but reconsider the venue motion if one could not be formed.

During jury selection Tuesday morning, none of the pool of 42 potential jurors raised their hands when asked if they had read of the case on social media. Eleven of the individuals subscribe to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Judge Sadler told potential jurors the case could last the rest of this week, and possibly stretch into Monday.

— For continuing updates on the trial, check back with bdtonline.com.

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