Local News in Brief : Santa Ana : Court Overturns Closure of Kraft Jury Selection

An appellate court has ordered that a reporter from the Orange County Register be allowed to cover jury selection in the trial of alleged serial murderer Randy Kraft.

The state's 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday that Orange County Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin was "clearly erroneous" in his decision to exclude the reporter, and must stop the closure of pretrial proceedings until further notice.

The court and attorneys opposing the reporter's presence during the process were ordered to respond with legal briefs by Friday, after which the court will issue a final ruling.

The trial of Kraft, 43, who is charged with 16 counts of murder, is expected to last at least a year. He has been held without bail since May, 1983, when he was arrested in Mission Viejo with the body of a dead Marine in his car. The prosecution has alleged that Kraft is also linked to 21 other slayings in three states.

McCartin excluded the reporter from the courtroom Monday after he began examining hardship excuses submitted by some of the hundreds of jurors who wish to be excused from serving during the lengthy trial.

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