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Jury selection slow rolling in Seilhamer murder case

After more than six hours of questioning yesterday at the Blair County Courthouse, just two jurors were selected to decide the fate of 22-year-old Marie Seilhamer of Ashville, who is charged with murder.
District Attorney Dave Gorman and defense attorney Thomas Dickey of Altoona threw tons of questions at perspective jurors yesterday in attempt to find an impartial jury that could decide if Seilhamer dies for her alleged crimes.
Mostly all of the jurors had affirmed they did have knowledge of the case, but said their knowledge would not keep them from deliberating the testimony in a fair manner. The death penalty and the non-heterosexual relationship between the involved proved to be more of a roadblock than the media coverage.
Seilhamer is charged with first degree murder in the May 2001 death of 20-year-old Shari Lee Jackson of Hollidaysburg.
According to a police affidavit, Seilhamer and Kristen Edmundson drove Jackson to a pull-off area in Clearfield County where, police said, Seilhamer repeatedly struck Jackson with a wooden baseball bat. The affidavit also states Edmundson slit Jackson’s throat after the beating was over. The two then loaded the body in a truck and transported the corpse a short distance, over the Blair County line.
The body was burned the next day by Edmundson and Scott Allen Custer, 24, of Boswell, police said. Police also said Amanda Speicher, 21, also of Boswell, assisted Edmundson and Custer by helping to conceal items owned by the victim and items used in the killing.
Others involved have already entered guilty pleas in the case, including Edmundson, who entered a guilty plea to first-degree murder in January. Edmundson will serve an already agreed-upon life sentence only if she cooperates fully with prosecutors during Seilhamer’s trial.
In December, Custer entered guilty pleas to charges of hindering apprehension or prosecution, abuse of a corpse and criminal conspiracy. He was sentenced to time served, which computed to about 15 months of incarceration.
Spechier was originally slated to go to trial at the same time as Edmundson, but a judge ruling in January severed the trials. Speicher is awaiting jury selection in her case.
Jury selection in the Seilhamer case will continue today in Hollidaysburg and court officials beleive it may take the rest of the week to seat an impartial jury. The lawyers need to find 16 people who can fairly deliberate the case – 12 for the actual jury and four alternates. So far, just a man and a woman have been selected.
Should court officials find they cannot seat an impartial jury in Blair County, presiding Judge Jolene Kopriva’s only option is to grant a change of venue in the case and take it to another county.
The trial will begin immediately after a jury is selected.