Day 1 in Sioux Falls Murder Trial

Jury Selection begins in Daphne Wright’s murder trial.

By Robert Wilson

800 people, and it still might not be enough. That’s the number in the jury pool as the trial for accused killer Daphne Wright started Monday. Wright is accused of kidnapping, killing and dismembering Darlene Vandergiesen last February. If she’s convicted, Wright faces a possible death sentence.

12 jurors will eventually decide of Daphne Wright is guilty or not. But finding the jurors prosecutors and Wright’s defense team can agree on will be a challenge. 800 summonses and questionnaires were sent out. Out of that pool, court administrators hoped for 500 possible jurors. They got 350.

Monday and Tuesday those individuals will come through the Minnehaha County Courthouse to answer questions. Wednesday, many will come back for follow-up questions. Jury selection alone is expected to take two weeks.

When the arguments and testimony begin, it will also look different than a typical trial. Wright is deaf, and screens will be placed behind the defense table so her sign-language conversations with attorneys can’t be seen in the gallery. As many as half-a-dozen sign language interpreters will also be in court. A special projector has been installed in the courtroom. And during the trial phase, every word that’s spoken by the attorneys and the witnesses will appear on screen.

It’s a case that could send South Dakota’s first woman to death row, and one that’s unlike anything this courthouse has seen in a long time.

Monday afternoon Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Dave Nelson objected to a defense request to video tape the trial. He said doing so would lead to an un-ending string of appeals after the trial is complete.

(( Source: KSFY ))