Attorney wants to tap jury fund for Okla. trial

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An attorney for the wife of a former Oklahoma prison warden accused of helping a prisoner escape said Wednesday he wants to boost jurors' pay during a trial he expects could last up to two months.

Oklahoma City attorney Garvin Isaacs filled a motion Monday in Greer County District Court to pay jurors from the lengthy trial fund in the case of Bobbi Parker, who is charged with helping convicted killer Randolph Dial escape from the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite on Aug. 30, 1994.

The lengthy trial fund, in effect since 2005, allows courts to provide full or partial wage replacement or supplementation to jurors who serve more than 10 days and are not fully compensated by their employers.

Isaacs said Parker, 48, wants jurors chosen for her trial to be paid appropriately for their service and not suffer financial hardships because of the loss of income. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on May 16.

"I think jurors worry about suffering economic hardships," Isaacs said. "We appreciate people who are willing to serve as jurors during a two-month trial."

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney David Thomas, said he agreed with using the fund to allay financial concerns prospective jurors may have about serving during Parker's trial.

"It will be a lengthy one. We want them to be compensated like they're supposed to be," Thomas said.

District Judge Richard Darby has not ruled on Isaacs' motion.

Jurors in Oklahoma are routinely paid $20 a day for their service, according to the motion. The lengthy trial fund allows jurors to be paid up to $200 a day per juror beginning on the 11th day of service during a jury trial, it says.

In addition, jurors who qualify for payment from the fund may also receive replacement or supplemental wages of up to $50 a day for their service between the fourth and tenth days of the trial, according to the motion.

The fund uses a $10 filing fee collected by clerks of court statewide on every civil lawsuit that is filed. Mike Mayberry, deputy director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, said the fund currently contains $1.2 million. It has contained up to $4.6 million before being tapped for juror and other district court costs.

Isaacs' motion says Parker wants prospective jurors to know at the start of jury selection that they will be paid from the fund "so that jurors will not be apprehensive or fearful that their jury service will cause them economic hardships due to the length of her trial."

Parker has pleaded not guilty to helping Dial escape. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Defense attorneys claim Parker, who lived with husband Randy Parker, former deputy warden at the Oklahoma State Reformatory, and their two daughters on the prison grounds, was kidnapped by Dial and held hostage until she was rescued by authorities at a chicken ranch in Campti, Texas, in 2005.

Dial, who died in 2007 at age 62, pleaded guilty to escape and maintained until his death that he kidnapped Bobbi Parker at knifepoint and forced her to drive him from the prison. Dial had been convicted in 1986 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the 1981 slaying of a karate instructor.

Prosecutors allege Parker fell in love with Dial and ran off with him. Evidence presented at a 2008 preliminary hearing indicated she and Dial shared a bed for a decade and acted like husband and wife.