Juror Raised Concerns About COVID-19 During Trial

(BEDFORD) – Today, Lawrence County Superior Court I Judge John Plummer III received complaints from a jury member about COVID-19 safety measures.

Judge John Plummer III

Judge Plummer, the defense, and the prosecution spoke to juror number 4 outside the presence of other jury members.

Prosecutor Arp explained how the court is using ultraviolet lighting, hepa filters, social distancing, and every precaution possible to keep everyone safe.

The juror was concerned because the jury was placed in a small room to eat lunch and other members of the jury were not wearing their masks while in the jury room.

Judge Plummer said he would not order a juror member to wear their mask because if they violated that order he would have to follow the law and either fine or put the juror in jail and he was not willing to do that.

Judge Plummer then asked juror number 4 if they could focus on the evidence and they stated they could.

“I am not going to play games in this trial,” said Judge Plummer. “I will not have you distracted from the evidence.”

However, both the defense and prosecution asked the juror to remain seated and if any more complaints were lodged they would revisit removing them and replacing them with an alternate juror.

Judge Plummer stated he will most likely order the jury to deliberate in the courtroom instead of the small juror room.

“We are attempting to create an axillary courtroom for just these types of concerns. But those efforts continue,” Judge Plummer added. “I think to make further accommodations is appropriate, but we will have to vacate the courtroom and no one will be allowed in here while the jury is deliberating.”

Scott Afanado

Judge John Plummer III is presiding over the trial of 43-year-old Scott Afanador, of Bloomington. Afanador is facing charges of dealing meth over 10 grams, possession of meth over 28 grams, and unlawful possession of a syringe.

Sam Arp. is prosecuting the case for the State. Denise Turner and Public Defender Bruce Andis are representing Afanador.

The trial is scheduled to conclude on Friday and can be viewed at this link.

During testimony this morning, the jury heard from Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Mike Williams who stopped the vehicle Afanador was a passenger in.

He testified about speaking to the four people in the vehicle and finding the drugs in the vehicle. Officers were at the scene for more than an hour and 18 minutes before they found 84 grams of meth hidden in a Crown Royal bag behind the dash of the SUV.

Afanador was arrested in November 2019 along with three other people when a Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department deputy stopped the driver of an SUV on State Road 37 at the Sinclair service station for a traffic violation.

Also arrested were 36-year-old Christopher Lynch, of Vincennes; 28-year-old Tiffany Purtlebaugh, of Bloomington; and 40-year-old Timothy Whaley, of Bedford. They are facing the same charges as Afanador.

Whaley is expected to testify for the state in the case. Prosecutor Arp says Whaley was the middle man. He took Afandor to meet his family in Kentucky where Afanador purchased the meth to sell in Lawrence County.

However, Public Defender Bruce Andis says police found no drugs in Afanador’s possession and no money in his pockets. He says the drugs were found in the dash of the vehicle on the driver’s side. He said his client was a backseat passenger.

“He (Whaley) is a liar, a drug addict, and a dealer and now he is going to testify – oh Scott did it,” Andis said during opening statements.

When the deputy approached the SUV he could detect the odor of raw marijuana coming from the interior of the vehicle, which led to a search of the SUV.

During that search, officers found a crystal substance that tested positive for meth, a hand-rolled marijuana cigarette, 110 grams of meth, syringes, and fentanyl test kits.

Afanador says the drugs were not his but someone else’s in the vehicle.

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