06/14/05 — Defense will take look at jurors today

View Archive

Defense will take look at jurors today

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 14, 2005 1:47 PM

The defense will continue to examine jurors today for the final four seats 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.

The state accepted four jurors Monday afternoon -- two men and two women.

The defense finished its examination of the four jurors together but is expected to question them individually today.

The four include a second-grade teacher who sat on a double murder trial in January 2001. The defendant, Antonio McKinney of Dudley, was sentenced to two life terms. Another panelist is a college student who hopes to enter Army airborne school.

The state examined numerous panelists during the day before accepting the four.

Many jurors, from the hundreds summoned across Wayne County, have been excused for cause because of their views on the death penalty, their preconceived ideas about the defendant's guilt or innocence or their knowledge of witnesses.

When 12 jurors are seated to hear the capital case, then three alternates will be selected one at a time.

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

The state, represented by District Attorney Branny Vickory and Assistant District Attorney Terry Light, has used 11 of its 14 peremptory challenges to excuse jurors without reason. Defense lawyers Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro and Richard McNeil have used 10 challenges.

This is the third time that jury selection started in the case. The first trial ended in a mistrial Nov. 9, 2004, because of juror misconduct. Then the second time, Lane's motion was allowed to remove the 12-person jury because the random selection of the jurors was compromised.

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