NELIGH — There have been more unexpected twists in this week’s Antelope County trial of an accused sex offender.
Jurors in the Darryl Lierman trial were sequestered at about 2 p.m. Thursday, and are expected to remain in sequestration for five days. The trial had begun earlier in the week without the jury being sequestered.
The eight women and four men — and two alternates — were addressed by Judge Mark Johnson following a lengthy lunch break where the issue was deliberated by court officials.
“Procedural matters have arisen that require the court to conduct an evidentiary hearing outside of your presence. The concern is about the exposure to the jury. Because of that, the jury will be sequestered,” Johnson said.
Before the jury was brought into court Thursday morning, Deputy Antelope County Attorney Joe Smith told Johnson the cross-examination of a witness Wednesday by the defense again violated a motion in limine by bringing up psychiatric issues of the witness and tying that into credibility.
Johnson ruled in March 2017 that the use of such statements and evidence must first be approved in an evidentiary hearing outside of the presence of the jury.
The same complaint of the defense making statements about the alleged victim’s credibility was made by the state Tuesday. At that time Johnson instructed the court-appointed defense attorneys — Doug Stratton and Jason Doele — to abstain from further comments of that nature in front of the jury until it is found admissible in a separate hearing.
In court Thursday, Johnson told jurors they would not be able to go home until the case concludes. He allowed the group until 4:30 p.m. Thursday to pack clothing and other items for a hotel stay of five days and make any other arrangements needed for a stay away from home.
Jurors will be housed in Norfolk and will not be allowed the use of cell phones or computers or have access to newspapers. They may use regular telephones and watch television as long as it isn't a local station.
The state and defense, as well as the Antelope County District Court staff, agreed to continue the trial on Saturday, as well as Monday, which is the federal Martin Luther King holiday.
Johnson apologized to the jury in announcing his decision and said the sequestration was not planned.
Jurors will be under the custody of the bailiff at all times. Transportation to and from Norfolk, as well as the cost of the hotel rooms, will be the responsibility of Antelope County.
Lierman, 51, faces eight felony counts related to sexual assault and child abuse.
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Editor’s note: Daily News reporter Andrea Larson contributed to this story.