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December 01, 2017 10:01 PM

Questions For Potential Jurors In GEAR UP Case Include One About KELOLAND News Coverage

By Angela Kennecke

Lake Andes

Trials for the defendants in the GEAR UP criminal cases begin on March 1 for Stephanie Hubers and June 25 for Dan Guericke and Stacy Phelps.  

But tonight KELOLAND investigates has obtained questions  potential jurors will be asked before they are selected.

That includes how much of our coverage they've seen.  KELOLAND's Angela Kennecke shows you the details.

Potential jurors in the GEAR UP criminal trials in Lake Andes will be getting a 24 page form that includes 80 different questions.

Here's a look at some of what they're being asked: 

In addition to personal, professional and education information, potential jurors are being asked in questions 11 through 14 if they have heard of the American Indian Institute for Innovation, Mid Central Educational Cooperative or OSEC.  All three organizations were involved in administering the GEAR UP grant.

Potential jurors are also asked if they know of former Mid Central Director Dan Guericke, former assistant business manager Stephanie Hubers and AIII head Stacy Phelps and their feelings about them and whether or not they have opinions on the criminal cases against them.

Other questions ask if the respondent knows of Scott and Nicole Westerhuis and their deaths.   Another question asks about any financial contribution to Marty Jackley's or Mike Butler's political campaigns. 

The questionnaire includes a list of 88 potential witnesses.  Some familiar names are on the list, including former GEAR UP consultants Rick Melmer and Keith Moore.
Out-going Secretary of Education Melody Schopp is on the list as well as other Department of Education employees. 

Several Mid Central Board members make the list of potential witnesses, along with Mid Central's accountant Randy Schoenfish and Mid Central attorney Scott Swier. 

There are also questions pertaining to media coverage of the cases and question number 68 specifically asks: "Do you regularly watch KELO News?"
If the answer is yes, it asks the potential juror if their feelings and opinions about GEAR UP and the three defendants are based on our reports. 

KELOLAND Investigates has been covering the GEAR UP scandal for more than two years and initially uncovered much of the problems with oversight and how the GEAR UP grant was administered.

There is no other specific media named in the questionnaire. 

Both the prosecution and defense came up with the questions and they were ultimately approved by Judge Bruce Anderson, who is presiding over the GEAR UP case.

A motions hearing to sort out various requests by the three defendants, like whether or not Guericke and Phelps will be tried separately or together will be held on December 18 in Charles Mix County. 

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