Lawyers to Question Potential Jurors Today

Selection of people who will decide Daphne Wright’s fate begins today

Lawyers in the capital murder case against Daphne Wright are to begin questioning prospective jurors this morning about their backgrounds and biases.

With hundreds of prospects, jury selection is expected to take several days. Because of pretrial publicity and because prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, it could be more difficult to choose impartial jurors.

But not everyone has paid close attention to the case.

At the downtown library Tuesday, Penny Gabel said she tracked the case in February 2005 when 42-year-old Darlene VanderGiesen went missing and Wright, 43, was arrested. She said she’s only heard snippets about the case since.

“I’d probably make a good juror,” said Gabel, 47.

Walking home a couple of blocks from the courthouse, Earl Jackson, 48, said he too has paid little attention since the early details were made public.

But as the trial gets under way in the upcoming weeks, the case could draw him back in.

Michael Frederick, 54, moved to Sioux Falls in November to write his 10th novel, which takes place in the city. Tuesday was the first he’d heard of the case.

“That stuff doesn’t even happen in Sioux City,” he said.

Wright’s lawyers argued last month that it would be unfair to sentence her to death because it would be difficult for her to make her case to a jury that her life should be spared.

Jackson said the argument makes sense, but Judge Brad Zell made the right decision in rejecting it.

“I think an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” Jackson said.

Gabel has served as a juror, but the stakes were much lower. She said it would be difficult to decide on a death sentence.

“I tend to agree with (capital punishment), but it has to be a pretty heinous crime,” she said.

As for Wright’s disability, Gabel said, “it doesn’t prevent a person from knowing right from wrong and should not be used as an excuse for murder.”

(( Source: Argus Leader ))

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