08/01/10 — County prepares for furor of Laurean trial

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County prepares for furor of Laurean trial

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 1, 2010 1:50 AM

Anyone with business at the county courthouse might want to get it taken care of this week -- otherwise they could find themselves caught up in the heightened security and the media and public crush that is expected to descend on the county for the first-degree murder trial of Cesar Laurean.

The trial will get under way Aug. 9 in Courtroom No. 1 for Laurean who is charged with the murder of 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach of Vandalia, Ohio, who was pregnant at the time of her death.

The trial, which is expected to last six to eight weeks, has gained national attention -- attention that is now being focused on Goldsboro.

Security planning for the trial originally included the possibility of closing off the streets surrounding the courthouse. That idea has been discarded.

The already limited parking around the courthouse is expected to add to the congestion problem.

"As for the general public, it is going to be a hassle," County Manager Lee Smith said. "If you have any business at the courthouse, come do it this week because after Aug. 8 for about six to eight weeks, good luck."

Employees are being advised to arrive at work early. People who ride the GATEWAY buses can expect longer walks as well. Courthouse area stops temporarily will be moved farther away. Each stop will be marked with a sign telling passengers where the stop has been moved.

The changes include:

* South End Route: Slocumb and Chestnut stop will be move to Slocumb and Spruce; county courthouse stop will be moved to Spruce and William; the Senior Center stop will be moved to Mulberry and John; the Walnut Square Apartments stop will be moved to Daisy and Walnut.

* Northwest Route: Elm and John stop will be moved to John right after turning onto John from Elm; the courthouse stop will be moved to the Senior Center on John; post office/museum stop will be moved to the Mulberry Street side of the museum.

"We are going to try to keep the media in the front (Walnut Street side) of the courthouse," Smith said. "Interviews will be in front of the courthouse because we want to keep the Ormond Avenue entrance and William Street entrance open.

"All of the streets will stay open. I am sure the city will have its hands full, everybody is going to have their hands full for a few days. People need to expect when they come in, particularly the week of Aug. 12, there is grand jury and a couple of other courts. They will have to be patient when they come in to go through security."

Smith said a "lot" of people have asked about the cost of the trial, which Wayne will have to bear.

"The judge coming to oversee this trial is wonderful, very cooperative. He said, 'I am really sorry that you have gotten this stuff,' because we bear the expense.

"I mean I am having to buy a freezer for evidence and that evidence could be ours forever. We are hoping that we can get the judge to order it back to Onslow, but I don't know. If that is not the case, I have got to keep it forever. That is $5,000 to $10,000 expense that you have to keep up forever at least until the appeals -- it could take a long time."

Smith expects a minimum cost of $80,000 to $100,000, but said that it could be as much more. The trial was moved because of pre-trial publicity in Onslow County.