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US Marshals find missing juror through Facebook video

September 8, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Social media helped U.S. Marshals track down a Sioux Falls woman who was selected to be on a federal jury and then disappeared during a lunch break.

The 30-year-old woman had been selected to sit on the jury of a financial criminal trial that ended last week, The Argus Leader reported. But she didn’t return from lunch during the trial’s first day, court officials said.

“Nobody knew where she was,” said Gary Bunt, a senior inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service. “The court tried to call her, and she wouldn’t answer her phone.”

Judge Karen Schreier sent two U.S. Marshals to find the woman.

Bunt said they discovered the woman’s whereabouts after she posted a live-stream video on Facebook to promote her business, while supposedly home with a sick child.

“This juror chose to abscond, so to speak, and not take her civic responsibility seriously,” Bunt said.

It’s not uncommon for a juror to get sick or have a family emergency, which is why juries have alternates, said Matt Thelen, the clerk of the U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls. But he said he’s never seen an instance where a juror simply decided not to return to court.

An alternate juror ultimately took the woman’s place.

Schreier sentenced the woman to perform 40 hours of community service.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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