The jury selection process began in earnest Monday for the murder trial of Joseph Elledge, who is accused of killing his wife, Mengqi Ji.
Due to the size of the jury (200 people), the selection is spread over two days.
A jury of 12 people will be selected, possibly with three to four alternates, depending on court staff. A roster of 100 additional potential jurors can be tapped in the event that jurors or alternates need to be excused due to COVID-19 during the estimated two-week trial.
While jurors will be sequestered during the trial, there will be no strict restrictions on their disclosure by court staff. They will be allowed to call home and talk to their families, staff said. Presiding Judge J. Hasbrouck Jacobs briefed the jury on what they cannot talk about, including the details of the case.
“Until you step aside to consider your verdict, you should not discuss this matter with yourself or with others or allow anyone to discuss it in your (range) of hearing,” he said. -he declares.
Jury members cannot form or express opinions on the case until the verdict has been reviewed. They were also ordered not to conduct independent research into the case, or to read or watch related media coverage.
No evidence was presented on Monday during the jury selection.
The day included questions to assess whether potential jurors have knowledge of the case, whether they have formed an opinion, and whether they can make a decision based solely on what is being debated during the trial.
Technical limitations hamper the audio of debates
To maintain a social distance between jury members, members of the media and the public were placed in what would typically be the jury’s meeting room.
There were some technical issues when the audio was cut from the courtroom stream for the media and the public. While the audio stream was restored, there were issues that persisted throughout Monday.
Jacobs was looking for potential jurors’ reasons on requests for apologies and opening information, court staff relayed in a proceeding with limited or no audio.
About a quarter of Monday’s group of 100 were excused after a mid-morning break.
The jury questioned by the lawyers
Boone County District Attorney Dan Knight made his initial comments during the jury selection after the break. Technical limitations made it difficult to listen to Knight’s remarks in front of the potential jury.
From what could be heard by the media and the public, he spoke about the timeline of Elledge and Ji’s relationship, including their marriage in 2017.
Knight began his questions to potential jurors just after noon and finished about an hour to 90 minutes later.
Towards the end of Knight’s process, he said jurors must agree to pass judgment on another person.
After another short break, the defense questioned the jury. There were still the same audio limitations for the media and audience staging room.
Questions asked included whether any of the potential jurors knew Knight personally, knew anyone in the pool socially, or were current or former colleagues.
Defense attorney N. Scott Rosenblum also asked whether potential jurors had been exposed to information about the case prior to going to the courthouse on Monday and what those sources of information were – usually the media.
Two jurors had already formed an opinion on the case based on what they had heard or read before. Jacobs asked them if they could disregard what they had already heard and if they could base any future decisions on what is heard in the courtroom.
Another juror said he had memory problems and was concerned about confusing what was heard in the media with what was heard in the courtroom.
Rosenblum noted in his remarks that jurors may hear evidence in the courtroom that had not previously been reported by the media.