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Starts Today: After Hours Video Case Getting National Attention

Staunton, Virginia- On paper it’s simply a jury trial involving two men accused of selling obscene videos in Staunton. But the case has drawn national attention, high-profile attorneys and could test the bounds of the First Amendment.

If you have any doubt about the importance of Staunton’s long-awaited obscenity trial, just look at the schedule. Attorneys are expected to take all day today — and possibly part of tomorrow — just to select a jury.

The court has set aside four days for the case, and some say it could spill over into next week.

The After Hours Video Store opened its doors last October. Within days, undercover police officers bought a dozen pornographic DVDs there. Two weeks later, after viewing parts of the movies, a Staunton grand jury handed down a dozen indictments against the business and its owner, Rick Krial.

A second round of indictments named store employee Tinsley Embrey. The two men face misdemeanor and felony charges.

The question before the trial jury this week is whether the videos are patently obscene and violate community standards.

“I think it’s going to be a gentlemen’s trial. It’s going to be a fair trial…that the jury’s going to respond to the law and the jury’s going to call it as they see it,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Robertson.

To help the jury see things their way, both sides have called in outside help from the U.S. Justice Department and private attorneys who have represented Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.

But one of those lawyers says the question before the jury is universal.

“The bottom line decision is going to be, does an adult in the community have the right to choose this form of entertainment if that is the thing they would like to select? That really is what it comes down to,” said defense attorney Paul Cambria.

The community, however, will not see the inner workings of this trial. Judge Thomas Wood, citing objections from both sides, has barred cameras from the courtroom. But we’ll have updates on the trial all week long.


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