06/08/05 — Defense questions jurors in Lane Trial

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Defense questions jurors in Lane Trial

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 8, 2005 1:48 PM

The defense was to get its chance today to question prospective jurors in the first-degree murder trial of Eric Glenn Lane in Wayne County Superior Court.

The prosecution passed 12 jurors to the defense late Tuesday afternoon. They included five white men, three black men, two white women, a black woman and a Hispanic woman.

The 33-year-old Lane is charged with the kidnap, rape and murder of 5-year-old Precious Ebony Whitfield on May 17, 2002.

Both the defense, represented by lawyers Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro and Richard McNeil of Jacksonville, and the state have 14 peremptory challenges they can use to excuse regular jurors for any reason.

Barfield said late Tuesday he wants to question the 12 individually about pretrial publicity and the death penalty. District Attorney Branny Vickory objected, saying the defense should have to use the same format as the prosecution.

Judge Gary Trawick of Burgaw said the defense can ask the 12 general questions first before interviewing the jurors one at a time.

The second group of jurors summoned for the trial arrived this morning and received an orientation about jury service and the case. The seated jurors and the leftovers from Monday's pool were to come later this morning.

When both sides agree on 12 jurors, then three alternates will be chosen.

Lane was charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, indecent liberties with a child and a lewd and lascivious act, in addition to murder.

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

The little girl was visiting family friends on Brandywine Drive, a few doors from Lane's home, in the Patetown community. She lived with her mother in Saulston, a few miles away. Her body was found a day after she was reported missing, and Lane was arrested the next day.