06/07/05 — More jurors called in case

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More jurors called in case

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 7, 2005 1:48 PM

Jury selection continued today in Wayne County Superior Court in the first-degree murder trial of Eric Glenn Lane.

Lane, a 33-year-old electrician, is accused in connection with the kidnap, rape and murder of 5-year-old Precious Ebony Whitfield more than three years ago.

Judge Gary Trawick of Burgaw had ordered that 200 jurors be summoned to court Monday and 200 more Wednesday.

A total of 54 jurors reported Monday, according to Deputy Court Clerk Kerry R. Minchew, and 131 were not found. A sheriff's deputy had said he thought almost 300 of the 400 had been found.

Jurors excused from a civil court trial this week also might be used.

This jury is the third panel called to hear the case. The original trial ended Nov. 9, 2004, in a mistrial because of juror misconduct. The next trial ended last week because the defense and state knew the random order by which potential jurors would be interviewed.

After hearing juror excuses, Trawick questioned the first 12 jurors on their background and their knowledge of the case. Later, he questioned them individually on their views on the death penalty. Trawick excused a few who could not accept the death penalty or who had formed opinions about the case.

The state, represented by District Attorney Branny Vickory and Assistant District Attorney Terry Light, also questioned the panelists briefly.

Once the state accepts 12 jurors, then defense lawyers Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro and Richard McNeil of Jacksonville will interview them. When the defense accepts 12 jurors, then three alternates will be chosen.

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

Lane is charged with the murder of the little girl who was visiting family friends May 17, 2002, a few doors away from the defendant's home on Brandywine Drive in the Patetown community. She was living with her mother in the Saulston community, a few miles away. Since the girl's death, her mother has moved.

Lane also is charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, indecent liberties with a child and a lewd and lascivious act.