06/17/05 — One more juror needed in Lane trial

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One more juror needed in Lane trial

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 17, 2005 1:45 PM

One final alternate was needed before testimony could begin in the first-degree murder trial of Eric Glenn Lane in Wayne County Superior Court.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers accepted the two alternate jurors on Thurs-day, both women. The selection process resumed this morning.

If the final alternate is found today, opening statements and testimony would be-gin Monday morning.

Lane is charged with raping and killing 5-year-old Precious Whitfield three years ago.

He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Judge Gary Trawick is ex-pected to recess court early today to accommodate defense lawyer Richard McNeil of Jacksonville. McNeil is defending a woman in a military court hearing this afternoon at Cherry Point.

Trawick has said he wants three alternate jurors for the case. Most trials involve only two.

But the Lane case has proved difficult to get started. A mistrial was declared in November because of juror misconduct and a jury seated for this trial was dismissed last month after the selection process was compromised.

Most prospective alternate jurors have been excused for cause. Many have said they may have formed an opinion about Lane's innocence or guilt and said they could not follow the law during a possible sentencing phase. The same jury that decides whether Lane is innocent or guilty will decide what punishment he will get.

The prosecution, represented by District Attorney Branny Vickory and Assistant District Attorney. Terry Light, have three peremptory challenges remaining that they can use to excuse jurors without reason. Defense lawyers Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro and McNeil have two peremptory challenges left.

The last four of the 12 regular panelists were seated Tuesday.

In addition to the murder, 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.