Aaron Hernandez murder trial judge whittling down jury pool
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — The judge overseeing the murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez spent Thursday working to whittle down the pool of more than 1,000 potential jurors, excluding people who said they believed Hernandez was guilty, expressed a bias against people with tattoos or who said it would cause a hardship for them to serve on a trial expected to last more than a month.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the June 2013 slaying of semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh reviewed written questionnaires that prospective jurors completed with Hernandez’s defense team and prosecutors. Hernandez attended the hearing, appearing to pay close attention as lawyers raised concerns about prospective jurors, who they referred to only by their juror numbers.
Garsh then decided whether to remove jurors from the pool, or to question them individually during what’s called voir dire, the second phase of jury selection. That is expected to start Friday.
The sides raised concerns about hundreds of prospective jurors, including one who answered that Hernandez was their favorite player. Assistant District Attorney William McCauley said that raised the question of whether the person could be fair and impartial, but defense lawyer Michael Fee said it could just be that the person admired Hernandez, and that does not disqualify them. Garsh agreed to bring the person in for further questioning.
Garsh also said she would bring in people who said they had very unfavorable feelings toward police and the court system, someone who said their gut told them Hernandez was guilty, and a person who explicitly stated “I don’t want to be a juror.”
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