Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester took the unusual step of banning cameras from jury selection in the trial of Kelly Mathis. Mathis is accused of dozens of felonies as the attorney of record for Allied Veterans of the World, an Internet cafe operator.
Judge Lester first asked both groups of attorneys if they wanted cameras in the room, then disallowed them, saying he did not want potential jurors to be intimidated by the cameras.
Mathis listened patiently as more than 100 jurors were called for duty. When asked if a 4 to 6 week trial would be considered too much of a hardship for them, almost every potential juror raised their hand and said, "Yes."
The judge then whittled down the list by separating what he and the attorneys considered legitimate hardships. Those that made the cut will be brought back Tuesday for more in depth questions before 6 are selected to hear the case.
Mathis is the only one of the top members of Allied Veterans not to take a plea deal. He has steadfastly claimed his innocence and told the court he was simply providing services as a lawyer.
The state called him "the mastermind" of Allied Veterans. We asked Mathis again on Monday if he planned on taking a plea deal on trial. He said he would not take a plea under any circumstance.