Jurors are now taking questions in the selection process for the Daphne Wright murder trial. She’s the 43-year old deaf woman accused of killing Darlene VanderGiesen last year.
The 350 potential jurors have been split into groups called panels. Wednesday attorney’s began questioning the first panel of 14 jurors. They started broad about their views on things like sexual orientation and race but then got specific and questioned them individually about the death penalty.
Attorneys for murder suspect Daphne Wright began questioning potential jurors by letting them know what they could expect during the month-long trial. Public defender Jeff Larsen said they’ll likely see gruesome photographs from Darlene VanderGiesen’s autopsy and of body parts found in the Sioux Falls landfill.
Many of the jurors said that would make them uncomfortable. One man said he wouldn’t be able to stay in the room and view photographs like that. So he was excused as a juror.
Larsen pointed out that Wright is the only african american in the courtroom. He asked the all white jury panel about race. Although some acknowledged race issues have made them uncomfortable at some point in their life, all potential jurors said race won’t be a factor in how they find the verdict. Jurors answered the same way when asked questions about Wright being a lesbian.
Attorneys questioned potential jurors individually concerning their views on the death penalty. Larsen made sure potential jurors understand that not every conviction can lead to the death penalty. He said there has to be aggravating factors making the crime out of the ordinary. State’s Attorney Dave Nelson asked the potential jurors whether they could see themselves voting in favor of the death penalty if there’s a unanimous conviction. All but one of those questioned individually said they would be able to follow instructions and vote for the death penalty if the evidence warrants it.
At one point this afternoon, Nelson asked the potential jurors, knowing what they now know, who hopes to sit on this trial. Four raised their hands. Attorneys did not finish individually questioning the first panel, so that’s an indication the jury selection process could take longer than the two weeks anticipated.
(( Source: Keloland ))