If a jury can be seated, Nathan Yager, 39, will go on trial this week. Yager is accused of murdering his wife Melinda in January 2011, but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The defense strategy, coupled with a long list of potential witnesses who could be known to the jury pool, resulted in 600 juror summons being sent out.
Each summons was accompanied by a questionnaire which defense attorney Stephan Schweissing and district attorney Dan Hotsenpiller used to identify potential conflicts.
On Friday, Oct. 26, nearly 200 prospective jurors showed up at the Delta Center for the Performing Arts. The school facility was used because there wasn't sufficient space in the district courtroom for everyone. The process of voir dire, or jury questioning, was explained. That process continues this week with smaller groups of potential jurors, whose names were drawn from voter records, driver's license/state ID records and state income tax returns. It's not known when a jury of 12 (plus alternates) might be seated — just in case, an additional panel summons of 200 has been issued for Nov. 1.
While the average jury trial lasts one to three days, Judge Charles Greenacre has blocked off the court calendar through Nov. 21. The length of the trial is another factor in jury selection.
The list of potential witnesses includes the three deputies who comprise the courthouse security detail, prompting Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee to come up with an alternative plan for providing security for the district courtroom.
All the potential jurors have been advised not to conduct any research on the Internet, and to avoid discussing or reading about the case.blog comments powered by Disqus