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Zeller trial continues Friday following denial of mistrial

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CANTON — The lead witness who stormed out of court weeping Wednesday in the trial of a Norfolk woman accused of scamming a group of people out of $300,000 was brought back to testify Friday.

St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards on Friday also denied a motion by Brian D. Pilatzke, defense attorney for Bobbie Jo Zeller, to declare a mistrial after Gloria J. Dietze suddenly left the witness stand Wednesday.

Ms. Dietze took the stand Wednesday to testify that Zeller, 37, of 72 W. Main St., had scammed her out of more than $3,000; however, when special prosecutor Nicole M. Duve asked to clarify the story behind an ATM withdrawal made in 2011, she threw copies of her financial records in the air, abruptly left the courtroom and said she would not be back.

Mr. Pilatzke told Judge Richards that Ms. Dietze’s behavior was something that could taint the jury’s deliberations.

“She said Ms. Zeller knew she stole money and committed the crime,” Mr. Pilatzke said. “I understand the court ordered the jury to disregard the incident, but you can’t unring that bell.”

Judge Richards denied the request and said that since Ms. Dietze would be returning to the stand, he would have the opportunity to question her further.

Jurors were again ordered by Judge Richards to not consider Ms. Dietze’s episode as evidence.

Returning to the stand to testify briefly, Ms. Dietze said she gave money to her brother, Robert Dietze, so that he could give it to Zeller, but told Ms. Duve that she was never told what the money was for.

“I trusted my brother,” Ms. Dietze said. “My brother and I are very close because he is the only one I have left.”

Unable to recall the first time she gave money to her brother for Zeller, she looked over ATM withdrawal records dated Aug. 25, 2011, and said it was possible that she started giving money to Ms. Zeller prior to that date.

Ms. Dietze told Mr. Pilatzke that she continued to have contact with Zeller even after filing a complaint with police on Feb. 28, 2013, but said her memory was shaky about how frequently they were in touch.

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