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Old 01-26-2018, 09:25 AM   #1

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FALL RIVER, Mass. More than 300 individuals were eliminated from the Aaron Hernandez jury pool Thursday, as defense attorneys, prosecutors, and the judge began the narrowing a group of about 1,000 to 18.

Left in the running are several New England Patriots fans while a number of employees at the Massachusetts jail where the ex NFL star from Bristol is being held on murder charges were rejected.

Several of the potential jurors who cleared the first round of cuts had indicated on questionnaires that Hernandez, the former Patriots tight end, was one of their favorite players before he was arrested and charged with murder in the June 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez, 25, sat in silence next to his lawyer for the duration of Thursday's court proceedings, listening to discussion about the prospective jurors. After 325 people were eliminated Thursday, 730 prospective jurors remain. They will be summoned to the Fall River Justice Center for individual questioning starting Friday morning.

Hernandez's defense lawyers have expressed repeated concerns about the ability to seat a fair and impartial jury given the high level of interest in the case and extensive press coverage. In a last minute maneuver, they asked the judge Thursday to adjust the jury selection procedure in a way that would have given them more control over the final stage of the process. Bristol County Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh denied that request.

"Virtually every potential juror knows something about the case," Hernandez's defense attorney James Sultan said, citing answers to the questionnaires that all prospective jurors filled out over the past several days. "We are in the position of having to make relative judgmentssomeone who knows 17 things about the case, verses someone who knows 21 things about the case."

Bristol County (Mass.) Assistant District Attorney William McCauley, the lead prosecutor on the case, asked Garsh to eliminate one woman based on her response wholesale jerseys to a question that asked whether Hernandez's professional football career would impair her ability to be fair and impartial. wholesale jerseys The woman had written, "Yes, he was my favorite player."

Garsh appeared prepared to excuse that juror, but defense attorney Michael Fee argued that the woman should advance to the next phase of jury selection. The exchange came only a few minutes after Garsh had eliminated a potential juror who had responded to a question about tattoos by saying that Hernandez whose arms, hands, and upper body are covered in ink was more likely to be guilty than someone without tattoos.

Garsh questioned why bias in favor of Hernandez should be allowed when "a moment ago" she had granted Fee's request to excuse the juror who said he was predisposed against a tattooed defendant. Hernandez and cannot put that aside." Garsh agreed to keep the woman in the jury pool.

"I can tell you that my tendency is certainly to lean on the side of bringing people in," Garsh had said at the beginning of Thursday's hearing, at which lawyers from both sides attempted to prove cause to eliminate people based on their answers to questionnaires that were filled out in the past week.

Fee accused one potential juror of "castigating the defendant's profession" in response to the question about Hernandez playing for the Patriots. He said the person's response indicated a desire to be seated on the jury for a "personal vendetta or revenge."

"We feel that is a fairly disturbing response and would move for dismissal," Fee said. Juror 1396 was excused.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to first degree murder and two illegal firearms counts. His lawyers asked Garsh to eliminate several people who had expressed strong views about gun ownership, including someone who wrote on the questionnaire "I hate guns," but in each case the judge refused, and said that a policy position does not necessarily mean someone cannot be fair.

Two jurors who said they had met Hernandez before were also advanced to individual questioning.

One indicated she "had personal contact with the defendant and Shayanna Jenkins," McCauley said, asking Garsh to excuse the woman. Jenkins, Hernandez's fianc and former Bristol Central High School sweetheart, faces a perjury charge in the case, accused of lying to the grand jury investigating Lloyd's death. Prosecutors, who have said she helped dispose of the gun used to kill Lloyd, may call her to the stand to testify against Hernandez.

Garsh would not eliminate the potential juror because "the nature of the contact is not something thatwould Football Jerseys Wholesale, Supply Cheap nfl Jerseys From China necessarily be biased."

But other potential jurors who had closer relationships with witnesses in the case were excused. Another person was eliminated because he had knowledge of Hernandez's charges in a 2012 double homicide in Boston, which have been ruled inadmissible at the Lloyd trial.

While Garsh dismissed a handful of employees of the Bristol County Sheriff's office, she kept in the pool an employee of a different agency who had worked on a per diem basis at the Bristol County House of Correction and Jail where Hernandez is being held.

Hernandez faces two separate charges in Bristol County arising from jailhouse incidents at the facility, including one count of threats to do bodily harm against a guard.

"There's a particular sensitivity at the Bristol County House of Correction because there were court proceedings," Fee said, protesting Garsh's decision to keep the woman in contention. Garsh recognized the defense team's concerns, but said it wasn't clear based on the questionnaire "how often she has gone to the facility."

Someone who wrote on his questionnaire, "I don't want to be a juror," will be summoned back wholesale jerseys to court, as will someone who wrote, "I don't know" in response to a number of questions on the survey. Other people who wrote that they believed Hernandez was guilty also were advanced to the individual questioning phase.

Garsh refused prosecutors' request to get rid of someone who "indicated unfavorable feelings about police and the court system" much to the delight of defense attorneys, who chimed in that such an individual could benefit from "some education about the system and how it works."
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Old 02-28-2018, 12:26 PM   #2

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