05/25/05 — No jury firm yet in trial

View Archive

No jury firm yet in trial

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on May 25, 2005 1:45 PM

Prosecutors in the Eric Lane murder trial said they hoped to have 12 potential jurors and three alternates picked by the end of court today.

The defendant will then have a chance to question the jurors himself.

Lane, 33, is accused of raping and murdering 5-year-old Precious Whitfield in 2002. He went on trial for the murder last year but the case ended in a mistrial because of juror misconduct.

Lane has since dismissed his lawyers and chosen to defend himself. He has two lawyers on standby to assist him.

On Tuesday, prosecutors accepted eight jurors and used four of its 14 peremptory challenges to excuse four others.

Many other members of the jury pool were excused by the court because they said they had formed an opinion about Lane's guilt or innocence.

One of those excused had been seated Monday. But after a day's reflection, he said he had changed his mind and could not follow the law during a possible penalty phase.

Another man was questioned at length. Just before Trawick and the state finished, Glenn Barfield, one of Lane's two appointed standby lawyers, reminded the judge that he had not asked the man about pretrial publicity. The man said he had read and heard much about the case and had formed an opinion about Lane's guilt or innocence. He was then excused.

Judge Gary Trawick opened this week's jury selection process by dividing the members of the jury pool into three groups. The first group has been questioned and questioning of the second group was to begin today.

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

Trawick stopped the jury selection process in mid-afternoon, after all members of the first group of possible jurors had been questioned.

With potential jurors out of the courtroom, Lane and prosecutors argued about the presentation of DNA evidence, with Lane saying he had not been given sufficient time to review evidence gathered by investigators.