08/11/10 — Live from the courtroom: Jury selection continues

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Live from the courtroom: Jury selection continues

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 11, 2010 9:46 AM

The second day of jury selection in the first-degree murder trial of Cesar Laurean began with a white elderly male potential juror requesting he be excused from the pool because of an overnight medical emergency involving his wife. The potential juror's spouse had surgery Tuesday and subsequent medical complications arose. The juror was not officially dismissed, but was sent home to care for his wife. He could potentially be called back to the selection pool if necessary.

By 9:45 a.m. the first 12 jurors were seated in the jury box for an additional round of random questioning. The first group included five white men, four white women, two black men and one black woman.

During the questioning of the first set of potential jurors, a black man revealed his daughter was murdered in the 1990s and that the case has yet to be solved. When asked, he said he could still remain fair and impartial, but later in the day, when the defense began its questioning after lunch, he was excused from the pool by Laurean's attorney, Dick McNeil.

Juror questioning also revealed that a white woman in the pool had been the victim of a domestic assault and that a white man was a robbery victim.

Immediately following a brief late-morning recess, a black woman was excused by the state. During questioning, it was discovered that her son was involved in an incident and shot nine times. She said the incident would not impact her ability to be impartial, but she was ultimately dismissed.

Just before court recessed for lunch, a black man was excused from the pool after being questioned because he said he did not believe he could judge Laurean fairly since the victim, Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, was pregnant at the time of her murder.

When questioning resumed after lunch at 2 p.m., the defense excused two white men, one of whom had three daughters, bringing the total numbers of jurors dismissed by the defense for the day to three, including the black man whose daughter had been murdered.

A Seymour Johnson airmen with a 16-year-old daughter also was excused from the pool.

Shortly after 3 p.m., court was temporarily recessed with a tentative jury of 12 intact. When court resumed, three alternates were selected and Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith said he expects opening statements to begin Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.