Jury selection began this morning in the Jason Rose trial, with 100 people summoned so that attorneys can pick the 12 people who will ultimately decide the future of the man accused of setting a deadly fire.
The selection process began with Judge Jack Murphy telling the jury pool that he appreciated their coming efforts in what should be a trying, two-week-long murder trial.
Murphy instructed the jury pool what to expect, both during the selection process and later in court. Some of them wouldn't have to stay long, he said, depending on their experiences, their questionnaire answers and their seeming ability to hear testimony with a fair and open mind.
But that meant the potential jurors had to do their best to keep an open mind, Murphy said. He ordered the panel to avoid newspapers, television and other coverage of the case - and specifically, past coverage of Rose, who is accused of burning down part of the Boardwalk Apartment complex in October 2005, killing three and injuring more than a dozen others.
By this afternoon, the 101 people in the original jury pool will be cut in half, ready to answer attorney's questions to help whittle the pool down even further.
Regardless of how soon the jury is selected, Murphy said, the trial will likely start in earnest Wednesday morning.
¢ UPDATE: 11 a.m.: After questioning this morning, several potential jurors in the trial of Jason Rose have dropped out of the pool - some for close connections to fire victims and fire memories.
One potential juror who made it past the first cut - when attorneys narrowed the pool to 46 from the original 101 - dropped out after revealing she had been friends with one of the Boardwalk Apartment fire victims, Yolanda Riddle.
"Do you think this will have an affect on your ability to hear the case?" Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan asked.
"Definitely," the potential juror replied, before being excused from the pool.
Others dropped out of the pool this morning for other reasons. Several jurors have expressed doubt in their ability to hear the case because of their exposure to media stories about Rose and the fire. McGowan told the pool both media and word-of-mouth could affect their ability to be fair and emotionless in court.
"This was a tremendous incident that has had a lasting impact," she said. "I think a lot of people have discussed it."
But some feelings about the trial came from elsewhere.
One juror told McGowan that he was a relative of Charles Glover, who died along with four of his grandchildren in a fire on New Jersey Street last summer. The potential juror told McGowan he couldn't hear the trial - the emotions of the fire that killed his brother-in-law were still too fresh.
McGowan asked that he be dismissed, and he left the jury assembly room.
Jury selection continues this afternoon.
¢ UPDATE 4 p.m.: Six men and six women will decide the fate of accused arsonists Jason Rose beginning Wednesday.
After more than six hours of sometimes intense questioning, Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan and defense attorney Ron Evans picked 12 jurors from a pool of more than 100 - the 12 that gave attorneys every indication they'd be able to judge evidence against Rose without prejudice or emotion.
Rose's trial began with jury selection today. He's accused of killing three and severely injuring seven others in the Boardwalk Apartment fire Oct. 7.