Michael Curry trial: Court accepts 23 of 45 candidates needed for jury pool

Jury selection moves at more rapid pace today

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comApril 19, 2011 

Jury selection in the case of accused bush-ax killer Michael Curry moved at a more rapid pace this morning as the court in three hours qualified 10 people for the jury pool, from which 12 plus three alternates will be picked for the trial expected to last two or three weeks.

With 13 jurors qualified Monday, that’s 23 in the jury pool in which Muscogee Chief Superior Court Judge John Allen wants at least 48 before the defense and prosecution start striking jurors off.

The proceedings began at 9 a.m. today, and 24 prospective jurors were in the first set brought up to the ninth-floor courtroom. Four of those quickly were culled after they told the court they already had formed an opinion that court testimony was not going to change. Each of the two men and two women were questioned privately where only the judge, attorneys and court reporter could hear, and each was allowed to leave afterward.

Jurors today were questioned just as they were Monday, with the prosecution asking whether they watch TV crime shows such as “CSI” and believe the high-tech crime-solving techniques depicted: Do they believe every crime scene has forensic evidence that identifies the perpetrator? Do they believe a defendant can be convicted without such evidence?

Such questions may indicate such evidence is not available or of no value in the horrific bush-ax slayings of Curry’s eight-months’ pregnant wife Ann, 4-year-old daughter Erika and 20-month-old son Ryan, found dead in their 5433 Rockhurst Drive home on Aug. 29, 1985.

After one prospective juror, a barber at Ranger Joe’s in Columbus, said she believed every story has two sides, Curry’s lead defense attorney asked whether she understood that the burden of proof lay with the prosecution, not the defense. The defense needn’t tell another side to the story if the prosecution can’t prove Curry’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, noted public defender Bob Wadkins.

The court saved some time this morning by reading the names of more than 60 witnesses to the initial set of 24 jurors before questioning them individually. On Monday the list was read to each juror as attorneys asked whether the person knew any of the witnesses.

Having stopped for lunch shortly after noon, the proceedings resume at 1:15 p.m.

Arrested by cold-case investigators on May 20, 2009, in Dalton, Ga., where he had settled after moving from Columbus after the slayings, Curry faces six counts of murder – one count of felony murder and one count of malice murder for each of the three victims. Malice murder means the killer committed the crime with malice aforethought, and felony murder means that regardless of malice, the killer committed the slaying during the commission of another felony, in this case aggravated assault.

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