After several days of jury questioning and numerous preemptory strikes from both the prosecution and defense, a panel of 12 jurors has now been selected in the double-murder trial of Jason Anthony Warren, and this afternoon the court set out to select six alternates.
Warren’s defense attorney, Glenn Brown from the Humboldt County Alternate Counsel office, continued his exhaustive approach in questioning the potential jurors, asking questions multiple times and making sure they understood such concepts as impartiality, premeditation and “innocent until proven guilty.”
Warren stands accused of the 2012 murders of Hoopa woman Dorothy Ulrich and Suzanne Seemann as well as the attempted murders of Terri Vroman-Little and Jessica Hunt, who were jogging with Seemann in the early morning hours of Sept. 27, 2012, when they were allegedly struck by a stolen car being driven by Warren.
Brown addressed the potential alternate jurors one at a time, asking each about their past and their familiarity with the participants in the case.
Earlier in the proceedings the pool of prospective jurors was briefly told about a 2001 incident involving Warren. According to the Two Rivers Tribune, Warren was convicted of attempted murder that year, when he was just 16 years old. But the prospective jurors were told not to use any information from 2001 to draw conclusions about Warren’s character. That information, the jury pool was told, should be used exclusively to inform them on Warren’s intent in the 2012 events.
Brown asked each prospective juror in turn if they were clear on that distinction. He also took pains to make sure they weren’t bringing any prejudices to the table. Speaking to a woman in her 40s, Brown reminded her that Warren is accused of intentionally running down three joggers. “But I don’t have to prove that he didn’t,” Brown said, reminding her that the burden of proof lies with the defense prosecution.
“You have no preconceived ideas?” The woman assured him that she did not. Yet Brown circled back to the question a couple more times, telling her, “We’d ask you to go into [the trial] with an open mind,” and, after directing her attention to Warren seated behind the defense table, asking, “Do you have any trouble seeing him as innocent as he sits here now?”
She promised she did not have trouble with that.
This deliberate questioning continued throughout the afternoon, with Brown methodically and repeatedly returning to the same questions with each prospective juror.
Prosecutor Paul Sequeira, who was brought up from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office by local DA Maggie Fleming specifically for this case, will have his turn to question the potential alternates when the trial resumes on Monday.
The trial is scheduled to last until early December.
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