05/27/05 — Four more jurors picked to hear Lane murder case

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Four more jurors picked to hear Lane murder case

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on May 27, 2005 1:45 PM

Four more jurors were seated Thursday, bringing the total to 10, for the first-degree murder trial of Eric Glenn Lane.

The prosecution and defense resumed the search for the final two jurors today in Wayne County Superior Court.

Judge Gary Trawick of Burgaw has said he wants three alternates to hear the capital case. Because of Monday's Memorial Day holiday, the alternates might not be selected until Tuesday at the earliest.

Lane, a 33-year-old electrician who lives in Patetown, is accused in the kidnap, rape and murder of 5-year-old Precious Ebony Whitfield, who was visiting family friends near Lane's home. At the time, she lived with her mother in Saulston.

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

The latest jurors included two white women, a black woman and a white man.

Trawick has been questioning the jurors extensively about their views of the death penalty, their ability to follow the law in a capital case and their background.

Lane, who is representing himself, dismissed six jurors Wednesday without questioning any. He questioned several Thursday.

One commented that he did not think it was fair for Lane not to have a lawyer. Lane told the juror that he was representing himself because he said he was not being treated fairly by the state. The potential juror questioned Lane's ability to handle the complex legal questions involved with a court case.

The defense used one of its 14 peremptory challenges to excuse the juror. Lane has four challenges left to remove possible jurors without declaring a reason.

Lane does have court-appointed standby lawyers who are seated in the bench behind him -- Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro and Richard McNeil of Jacksonville.

Barfield tried to excuse another juror because the lawyer said he had prejudged the penalty phase. But Trawick ruled Barfield had to bring that up after the state had finished with the juror.

When Trawick asked Lane what he thought of the juror, he said, "I kinda like him."

"Obviously, I had not conferred with my client" about the matter, Barfield added.

The juror was accepted by both sides.

In addition to the first-degree murder on May 17, 2002, Lane is charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, indecent liberties with a minor and a lewd and lascivious act.

Lane was accused of abducting the little girl during her stay at a nearby home. Her body was found two days later in Nahunta Creek near the Airport Road bridge.

Lane's first trial ended last November in a mistrial because of juror misconduct and an insufficient number of remaining jurors.