06/13/05 — Three more jurors seated for Lane trial, total stands at eight

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Three more jurors seated for Lane trial, total stands at eight

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 13, 2005 1:46 PM

Three more jurors have been seated -- bringing the total to eight -- to hear the first-degree murder trial of Eric Glenn Lane in Wayne County Superior Court.

The four other jurors who were accepted by the prosecution were excused later by the defense.

The process will resume Monday morning with the prosecution interviewing panelists for the remaining four seats.

Lane, 33, is being tried in connection with the kidnap, rape and murder of 5-year-old Precious Whitfield on May 17, 2002. If convicted, he could be sentenced by the same jury to life in prison without parole or death.

The latest jurors are all women.

Defense lawyers Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro and Richard McNeil of Jacksonville tried to challenge two of the remaining four jurors. One was a state Department of Corrections officer. The other knew the lead investigator, Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Mike Kabler. Both challenges were denied by Judge Gary Trawick of Burgaw. The defense then used two of its eight remaining peremptory challenges to excuse the two.

The defense also peremptorily excused two other jurors.

Barfield also asked the seven jurors if they had heard a prospective juror talk about a possible punishment for Lane. None said he or she had.

The issue was raised Thursday when the defendant's family said they had heard someone behind them comment about punishment. The one juror whom they had pointed out denied the comment and was excused.

The defense opened Friday's session by interviewing the seven jurors together. Then Barfield asked them individually about pretrial publicity, their knowledge of the case and their views on the death penalty.

When 12 jurors are seated, then three alternates -- one more than the required minimum -- will be selected one at a time.

This is the third different jury selection for the case.

The original trial was stopped Nov. 9, 2004, after four weeks because of juror misconduct. Trawick ended the next phase May 31 after six days because the random jury selection process had been compromised.

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