10/19/04 — Jury selection continues in Lane trial

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Jury selection continues in Lane trial

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on October 19, 2004 1:58 PM

The defense will resume today its questioning of prospective jurors in Wayne County Superior Court in the first-degree murder trial of Eric Glenn Lane.

The defense got its chance to interview 12 jurors individually Monday, after the state ended its questioning and accepted them.

The 33-year-old Lane is being tried for the sexual assault, kidnap and murder of 5-year-old Precious Whitfield on May 17, 2002. The little girl was visiting family friends a few doors from the defendant's home on Brandywine Drive in the Patetown community.

If Lane is convicted of first-degree murder, then the same jury would decide his punishment -- life in prison without parole or death.

After the individual interviews, defense lawyers Edwin L. West III of Wilmington and Richard McNeil of Jacksonville quickly challenged one woman for cause.

West noted that the woman had written on her pre-trial questionnaire that "I already know how I feel about the case and am a supporter of the death penalty." She then said it would be difficult to consider a life sentence as a possible punishment.

The second woman also said it would be difficult for her to consider life in prison as a sentence if Lane were convicted of first-degree murder.

Judge D. Jack Hooks of Whiteville then brought both back to the courtroom so that District Attorney Branny Vickory and West could question them individually again. Hooks later excused both women for cause.

Hooks also told a potential juror that he did not think testimony would begin until next week.