Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Jurors fill out questionnaire for Jason Bush trial

A total of 225 prospective jurors were summoned today to Pima County Superior Court to fill out a questionnaire in State of Arizona vs. Jason Eugene Bush. Trial for Bush is scheduled to resume next Tuesday with jury selection for those jurors who are not dismissed from service as a result of their questionnaire answers.

Jason Bush
Bush, 36, is charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder in the deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, 9, as well as one count of the attempted first-degree murder 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.

Co-defendant Shawna Forde was recently convicted of all of these charges and was sentenced to death by a superior court jury. Bush’s attorney’s filed a motion on Monday asking for a continuance or a change of venue for the trial due to the publicity surrounding the Forde trial. The motion also asked for individual voir dire or questioning of jurors on an individual basis, something that was not allowed when the jury was selected in the Forde case.

The questionnaire filled out by jurors summarized the charges faced by Bush at trial and attempts to explain that the trial may have as many as three phases, the first being the guilty-not guilty phase that would be tried just like any other case. The second phase, if Bush is found guilty, would be the aggravation phase during which the jury has to agree that aggravation circumstances are present that makes Bush eligible to face the death penalty. The third phase, should Bush be found to be eligible for the death penalty, would feature evidence the defense hopes would persuade the jury to grant leniency or a sentence of life in prison as opposed to death by lethal injection.

The questionnaire informed the prospective jurors that the trial is anticipated to last through April 8 if all three phases are needed.

There are questions regarding the amount of news coverage jurors may have been exposed to as well as the sources of that news coverage. It also asks about conversations prospective jurors may have had with family, friends and co-workers about the case.

The questionnaire also seeks opinions regarding political views, immigration and the death penalty.

The questionnaires will be reviewed between now and Friday afternoon when attorneys will meet with the judge to discuss jurors who may be dismissed based upon the answers they provide on the questionnaires.