Prosecutors are asking potential jurors whether they believe the murder case against Michael Curry can be proved without any forensic evidence to show he killed his pregnant wife and two children with a bush ax on Aug. 29, 1985.
Jury selection began this morning in a ninth-floor courtroom at the Columbus Government Center, with Chief Judge John Allen presiding. Prosecuting Curry is District Attorney Julia Slater, who asked individuals summoned for the jury pool whether they watch TV crime shows such as “CSI” and “Forensic Files.”
Her follow-up inquiries were whether prospective jurors believe the crime-solving methods they see on TV, whether they think crime-lab technology can yield a “magic piece of evidence” that seals a suspect’s guilt beyond doubt, and whether a defendant can be convicted in the absence of such forensic evidence.
Allen said this morning that the court has an initial pool of 88 candidates for the jury, and he would like to qualify 48 before the defense and prosecution starts striking people off to get the final 12 plus alternates.
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The judge said he expects the trial to take two or three weeks, and reiterated that he will tolerate no delays: “I’m going to move this case,” he said twice, adding, “We’re going to finish this in my lifetime.”
Still he expected jury selection to be “an extended and tedious process.” The court has a list of 63 witnesses whose names must be read to individual jury candidates to determine whether they have some connection to those who will testify.
The first set of 20 jury candidates was brought in shortly after 10 a.m. for general questioning about whether they were related to any of the parties involved in the case or already had formed an opinion of Curry’s guilt or innocence.
An Asian woman was dismissed because she didn’t comprehend English well. Another woman said she had expressed an opinion soon after the homicides occurred.
Questioned individually, she said, “I had expressed an opinion that the husband did it.” She was dismissed.
A 37-year-old hospital worker said she recalled hearing about the Curry case, but had no opinion on it. She said she felt some forensic evidence would be needed to convict Curry.
The first juror questioned, a TSYS worker, first said he had an opinion and later said he could set it aside and focus on the evidence. But he made his opinion clear when of Curry he said, “What other reason would he be here for? I guess he committed a crime.” He was dismissed.
By lunchtime today, four potential jurors had been questioned individually. Court resumes 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 is accused of hacking to death his eight-months’ pregnant wife Ann, 4-year-old daughter Erika and 20-month-old son Ryan in the family’s 5433 Rockhurst Drive home.