Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Neil Entwistle Murder Trial: Jury Selection

Yesterday, crime blogger Steve Huff and Wendy Murphy, part of the expert panel for the Metrowest Daily News web site covering the trial, had some interesting commentary on the jury selection process in Massachusetts and whether or not Entwistle, a British citizen can get a fair trial.

Wendy Murphy:
Individual voir dire is highly discouraged and certainly not constitutionally required except on very few issues, e.g., in a child sex abuse case, jurors MUST be asked whether they had been victimized as children. And issues around race and ethnic prejudice are required -- but as for specifically asking people other questions, mass law doesn't allow it.

Steve Huff:
I'm interested, as I have been since 2006, in the international aspect of this story -- the differences in the way the British and American press approach covering the case, and how attorney Weinstein has already tried to use this in court, noting that the British press seems to think their boy can't get a fair shake here. I see a few parallels between this case and a more recent crime, the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Italy, in 2007.

Here's the link to read more of Murphy & Huff's thoughts.

Beth Karas correspondent for CNN.Crime In Session also weighs in on the trial so far:

Posted: 02:11 PM ET
WOBURN, Massachusetts – Neil Entwistle’s parents, Clifford and Yvonne, and his brother, Russell, are in court today. They are seated in the first row of the public gallery, directly behind the defense table.
Neil Entwistle smiled at them when he came into court this morning. He sits, again, to the far right of the defense table in a dark suit and pink shirt. The defense team brought the freshly-laundered shirt into court this morning and had it delivered to Entwistle in his holding cell. Defense attorney Elliot Weinstein passed on my request to meet the Entwistles; they declined “at this time.”

As I watch jury selection, author and radio host Michelle McPhee is sitting next to me. I happen to be reading (though not in court) her book about the Entwistle case, “Heartless.”

As of the lunch break, nine men and eight women have been qualified to sit as jurors. Excused jurors include a man whose wife was also summoned to jury service in this case and is among the eight women qualified thus far. Another has a friend who knew Rachel Entwistle. A third said he would hold it against Entwistle if he didn’t testify at the trial.

The attorneys are expected to begin exercising peremptory challenges tomorrow. Each side has 16 of them. Opening statements and testimony from the first witnesses could happen by Thursday.


Unknown said...

I'm sooooo glad you guys are covering the details.. You are all terrific!!!