Trial Blog: More than 300 on witness list - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Trial Blog: More than 300 on witness list

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Today's questioning heavily resembled that of yesterday's…in a very monotonous way. What differed was the attentiveness of the jury and the range of the analogies.

The morning started in the usual way - the basic questioning of the jury. Judge Thompson asked jurors if they were between the ages of 18 and 70, if they were able to read and write, if they were in the United States Legally and if they'd ever been convicted of a felony. Usually the jurors don't make a peep during this part of qualification. This time was different.

One man raised his paddle and indicated to Judge Thompson that he was over the age of 70. Due to his age, it is not required that he serve on a jury. He was given the opportunity to leave…and he chose not to take it. He told Thompson he was interested in staying through jury selection.

As demographics were read, this man indicated that he was a retired prison warden. He was singled out several times during the day by attorneys for both the prosecution and the defense for his law-enforcement-type career. Typically attorneys single out any juror with a background in law enforcement or who has a family member or friend in law enforcement. Attorneys want to ensure that the juror will not be more inclined to believe the testimony of a person acting in the line of duty as law enforcement as opposed to a private citizen.

 

A few additional names were added to the witness list named to jurors this time around. Upwards of 350 names were called off as potential witnesses for both the prosecution and the defense.

While the numbers are not 110% perfect (attorneys did duplicate some names, and in some cases groups were named rather than a specific person) this is how we tallied the number of witnesses:

  • Prosecution: 77 witnesses named
  • Milton McGregor team: 96 witnesses named
  • Tom Coker team: 21 witnesses named
  • Larry Means team: 19 witnesses named
  • Jim Preuitt team: 6 witnesses named
  • Harri Anne Smith team: 135 witnesses named
  • Jay Walker team: 23 witnesses named

When you add them all together, that breaks down to a rough estimate of 379 possible witnesses. The witness list for the previous trial, by our records, didn't break 300.

 

A few other things of note:

-          One juror was sent home early today - she was a first grade teacher and made a successful argument to Judge Thompson that children of that age should not have to work with a substitute for two months while the trial was going on. At least one other member of the jury pool was a teacher. She did not specify what grade, and did not believe it would hinder her in her judgment of the trial. One man told Judge Thompson that he needed to go home so he could take care of his dog and cat. He was not dismissed early.

-          The jury pool from both yesterday and today were heavily populated with women. That it interesting to note - the jury from the last trial was made up of 10 women and only two men.

-          Everyone in this pool has lived in Alabama for at least 10 years - the prosecution usually tries to ask this question to see if jurors may have a bias towards outsiders (as in this case) coming in to work for the government on the trial. 

-          Lots of emphasis is being put on the use of circumstantial evidence. Yesterday we heard the raining vs. toilet exploding analogy. Today we heard:

  • Bank Robber - One man visits the same bank every day for nine days in a row and makes a transaction. On the 10th day he goes in wearing a ski mask and holds a gun up to the bank teller. Does this mean he was robbing the bank? One juror argued that maybe it wasn't the same man. Attorneys suggested that maybe he was wearing the ski mask because his face was cold and the teller mistook his gloved hand to be a gun.
  • Alabama Football - You're at an Alabama football game, you get up to go to the concession stand, and while you're there, 90,000 fans erupt into cheers. Does this mean the team scored? One juror said yes. Attorneys made the point that maybe someone stripped down and was streaking across the field so fans were cheering. Or maybe they made an announcement with the score from another game.
  • Michigan Football - Fundamentally the same argument as Alabama Football. Jim Parkman just switched the team to make Prosecutor Edward Kang feel more at home (yes, this was a slight jab at the fact that 'he ain't from around here') Attorney David McKnight also added that this fan might not have even known if the offense or the defense were on the field at the time which could drastically alter the meaning of the exclamation.
  • Stolen Cow - A cow was stolen out of a pasture. When the farmer looked at the dirt around where the cow was standing, he saw three sets of footprints. Three people must have worked together to make off with this cow. Attorney Ron Wise said in this story, there was only one robber, he just put shoes on the cow's hooves to make it look like three people were in the pasture.

-          Attorney Bobby Segall asked jurors today if they had ever gambled before. 19 jurors said they had gambled before, 20 said they'd played bingo before, and 3 said they'd played electronic bingo before. Also interesting - only 3 members of the jury did not own a gun or live with anyone who owned a gun.

 

Monday night was a late night for attorneys. They didn't finish up with individual juror interviews or leave the courthouse until around 7:00 p.m. Today we were about an hour behind scheduled from yesterday - individual juror interviews didn't start until after 3:30 p.m. However, because of the "Baxley Request" not all of the jurors will be interviewed individually in an effort to save time. Attorneys worked together to create a list of jurors they wanted to interview separately. I anticipate an earlier night for everyone involved.

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