05/29/05 — 11th juror seated in Lane murder trial

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11th juror seated in Lane murder trial

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on May 29, 2005 2:01 AM

An 11th juror was seated Friday to hear the first-degree murder trial of Eric Glenn Lane, who is accused of killing 5-year-old Precious Whitfield.

With the original pool of more than 100 potential jurors exhausted, Judge Gary Trawick said jurors summoned for this week's term of court of Wayne County Superior Court will be used to complete the selection of a 12th juror and three alternates he has determined the case will need. The trial will resume Tuesday.

Lane went on trial last year for the girl's death but that proceeding ended in a mistrial because of juror misconduct.

Lane, who is defending himself, used his 14th, and last, peremptory challenge to excuse a man who was not living here in 2002 when the child was murdered. The challenge came after a courtroom discussion among Lane and his standby lawyers, Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro and Richard McNeil of Jacksonville.

Lane, 33, also challenged for cause a juror who knew his ex-wife. The challenge was allowed.

Prosecutors exercised their 10th peremptory challenge to excuse a woman who did not believe in the death penalty.

Friday's last panelist was excused because she said she formed an opinion about the defendant's guilt or innocence.

Lane will have three more peremptory challenges during the selection of alternate jurors.

He is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, indecent liberties with a child and a lewd and lascivious act. If he is convicted of first-degree murder, then the jury would decide his punishment -- life in prison without parole or death.

The little girl was living with her mother in Saulston. She was visiting family friends on May 17, 2002, on Brandywine Drive, a few doors from Lane's home, in Patetown. On that afternoon, Precious and several neighborhood children had played in Lane's yard. The others left, but she went inside his home, court records said.

She was reported missing the next day, Saturday, and sheriff's officers launched a search and an investigation. Her body was found Sunday by people fishing in Nahunta Creek near the Airport Road bridge. Lane was arrested and charged the next day.