Friday, January 21, 2011

The jury has been picked; opening statements set for Tuesday, Jan. 25

What started out on Jan 5 as a prospective pool of jurors became 103 then, 98 then 81, then 63, then 62, then 36 and is now 16—12 jurors and four alternates. 

Two males and 14 females will sit as the jury in the first-degree murder trial for Shawna Forde at Pima County Superior Court. Those 16 jurors will hear opening statements and testimony in the case starting Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Shawna Forde
Forde, 43, is charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder in the shooting deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, 9, as well as charges of one count of attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of Gina Marie Gonzalez; one count of burglary in the first-degree; one count of aggravated assault, serious physical injury; one count of aggravated assault, deadly weapon/dangerous instrument; one count of armed robbery; and one count of aggravated armed robbery.

Issues of the day

The third day of jury selection on Friday, Jan. 21, the focus was on issues that included:
✔Whether any of the jurors know any of the parties;
✔Whether any of the jurors had previously served on a grand jury;
✔Whether any of the jurors know any of the witnesses;
✔Whether any of the jurors know anyone in law enforcement, had frequent contact with peace officers or had been treated to “war stories;”
✔Whether any of the jurors had studied or practiced law;
✔Whether any of the jurors know each other (three of them did);
✔What their primary source of news is (one juror said “My fiancé’s granddaughter,” one juror remarked.)
✔Whether any jurors had ever been the victim of crime.
✔The attitudes of the prospective jurors regarding the issue of accomplice liability, felony murder, the use of plea agreements to solicit testimony and the use of informants by law enforcement.
✔Whether or not any of the prospective jurors knew anything about the community of Arivaca or with border action groups.
✔What the jurors thought about eyewitness testimony and emotions clouding observations of crimes.
✔Whether any of the jurors were involved in Neighborhood Watch:
✔Whether any jurors would be concerned if attorneys questioned investigators about the results of their investigation of the case;
✔Whether any of the jurors owned handguns or other weapons (one juror said: “My husband received it for Christmas. Not from me.” The juror mentioned that she had participated in shooting instruction with the handgun two weeks ago.);
✔Whether any of the jurors load their own ammunition;
✔Whether any jurors had ever had a weapon pointed at them;
✔How the jurors felt about border watching activities and SB 1070;
After 90 minutes of engaging in the preemptory strike process the jury was seated and read the preliminary instructions.

Defense issues

Two issues were raised by the defense. One involved the use of handcuffs on the defendant when she is brought into court. Defense counsel Eric Larsen said that handcuffing Forde’s arms behind her back was producing a painful reaction as she had been shot in an unrelated incident a few months before the home invasion in May 2009.

Also, Larsen was concerned about the placement of the podium used by Judge Leonardo in the well of his courtroom. The judge prefers that it be placed in the middle of the well, however Larsen observed that the podium was blocking the view of the jury by the defendant and of the defendant by the jury. The podium will be located between the counsel tables for the duration of the trial.

Check the Green Valley News and Sun for coverage of the trial.

© David S. Ricker, all rights reserved.