Mansion Murder Trial: Jury Selection Questions Focused on More Contemporary Issues

As the judge and counsel selected jurors for a 2015 murder trial, the questions asked of each potential candidate seemed to be more relevant to contemporary issues in society.

Daron Wint is charged with first-degree murder and other counts for his alleged involvement with the murders of  Amy Savopoulos, 47;Philip Savopoulos,10; Savvas Savopoulos, 46; and Veralicia Figueroa, 57.  The jury selection process began on Aug. 5. 

The questions started basic and then got interesting. The judge asked if potential jurors knew pertinent people in the case i.e. attorneys, decedents, witnesses, the defendant. She asked if they had training in the scientific or technical field. She navigated into legal precedents, questioning whether or not potential jurors would be able to remain fair and impartial if the defendant chose to invoke his fifth amendment right not testify.

However, one question probed into whether or not potential jurors would hold the testimony of someone in law enforcement with the same weight as any other witness.

I paused. What she was getting at? Was it the fact that some people have the propensity to believe the word of law enforcement officers is the absolute truth? Or,  was she getting at the distrust that’s currently embodied in various aspects of our society? Police brutality came to mind.

Another question dug into the credibility of someone who immigrated to the country. The rhetoric surrounding immigration also came to mind.

I was surprised when a juror approached the bench to explain his rationale behind the questions he answered “yes” to. He said he would have more empathy for immigrant witnesses. He said he would hold their testimony at a higher regard because he teaches immigrant students and knows that in many cases they speak out of fear. I wasn’t surprised when he was excused.

The jury selection process is intricate and interesting to see who is excused and who isn’t. To see which “yes” to which questions and the subsequent rationales that toe the line of dismissal.

Having knowledge about the case, clearly wasn’t one of the answers that would get a candidate dismissed. It was rare that a juror said they didn’t know anything about the case. It was also rare that a juror said they didn’t have some sort of familial relation or friendship to someone in law enforcement.

Regardless, a jury of 16 members, including four alternates, was selected and opening arguments are scheduled to begin on Sept. 11.

Read more about the Mansion Murder, here.