Friday, January 9, 1998

Walls jury seated; trial begins

A jury was seated late Thursday afternoon to hear the criminal trial of Roger Walls, former head of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force.
    Opening arguments and testimony begin today.
    Jury selection took longer than expected as U.S. District Judge Stephen Reasoner questioned potential members about pretrial publicity.
    Walls faces charges of racketeering, conspiracy to manufacture drugs and conspiracy to extort money. Former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon of Benton, who was indicted along with Walls, was convicted last summer in a publicized trial.
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stripling told potential jurors that the government has agreed to seek sentence reductions for several convicted criminals for testimony against Walls.
    "A lot of the people who are going to testify here are in the penitentiary," Stripling said.
    Defense attorney Jack Lassiter said he expects the trial to last until at least Tuesday.

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