A jury was selected today in the misdemeanor gambling case against Charles County's top elected official, charged with operating illegal video poker games at his country store.
The jury selection came at the end of a day in which most of the 60 potential jurors acknowledged that they had read news accounts or discussed the case at home.
A dozen said under questioning that they have played video poker on the kind of machine county commissioners president Marland Deen, 50, and his brother Wayne, 47, are charged with operating at their Little Store in Waldorf, Md.
But only one potential juror -- a District Court clerk who was subsequently dismissed -- said her knowledge of the case would keep her from rendering an impartial verdict. In all, the jurors were each asked 50 questions.
The Deens are the last of 17 defendants charged with gaming violations -- and the only two to opt for a jury trial -- as the result of a six-month investigation by the county state's attorney's office.
During that investigation, police confiscated 40 electronic games and $222,000 allegedly made off the machines.
The Deens, who pleaded not guilty to the 11 charges placed against each of them, maintain that their case differs from the others because police found the video machines in a locked storage shed behind the country store.
Potential jurors were asked here today if they had ever cashed checks or played video poker at the Deens' store, contributed to the commissioner's campaigns or opposed him on political matters.
Several said they would support legalizing gambling in Maryland and five said they felt there was a real legal dichotomy in the state where horse racing and a million-dollar lottery are legal and video poker machines are not.