After hours of sometimes intense questioning, District Court Judge Jack Murphy approved a jury of six men and six women who will decide Jason Rose's fate.
Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan and defense attorney Ron Evans on Tuesday selected the 12 jurors from a pool of more than 100.
Rose's trial begins at 9 a.m. today with opening statements. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, aggravated arson and seven aggravated batteries in connection with the October 2005 Boardwalk Apartments fire.
During the course of the trial, attorneys have said, jurors likely will hear evidence against Rose including an alleged confession to Lawrence police Detective Troy Squire - a confession in which Squire said Rose admitted to starting fires in the past.
Evans said Tuesday that he expected to cross-examine almost every prosecution witness, a process both attorneys said could extend the trial at least two weeks.
That amount of time in court, along with the high-profile nature of the case, fueled much of the juror questioning - specifically, when Evans began calling on individual jury candidates Tuesday afternoon.
Key moments in the Boardwalk Fire timeline:
- Oct.7, 2005: Fire destroys apartment building
- Oct. 7,2005: 6News video: Interim Fire Chief Mark Bradford talks withreporters at a mid-morning Friday news conference.
- Oct.11, 2005: Family, friends identify three victims
- Oct.12, 2005: Arrest made in deadly fire
- Nov.15, 2005: Law firm: Fire alarms didn't work during blaze
- Feb.23, 2006: Birthday cards may have sparked blaze
- Feb.24, 2006: Agent: Design helped fire's spread
- Moreabout Jason Allen Rose
The trial, he told potential jurors, would be long and often intense. For people prone to distraction, he said, this trial might not be the right fit for them.
"You're going to get a chance to see the so-called confession," Evans said, referring to Rose's taped interview with police shortly after the fire. "You're going to have to pay attention to it. It's hours and hours long."
During McGowan's questioning, one potential juror revealed that she had been close friends with one of the fire victims, Yolanda Riddle.
"Do you think this will have an effect on your ability to hear the case?" McGowan asked.
"Definitely," the potential juror replied, before being excused from the pool.
Others dropped out of the pool for other reasons. Several expressed doubt in their ability to hear the case because of their exposure to news accounts about Rose and the fire.
McGowan told the juror pool that both media coverage and word-of-mouth information 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 Sr., who died along with four of his grandchildren in a fire last year on New Jersey Street. The potential juror said the emotions of the fire that killed his brother-in-law were too fresh.
He was dismissed.
Who's Who in the Rose Trial
Amy McGowan Assistant district AttorneyAge: 46Lives in: Kansas CityEducation: J.D. KU, 1984. Bachelors degree in film studies, KU, 1981.In brief: McGowan was hired earlier in 2005 by Dist. Atty. Charles Branson. Before that she had been a Jackson County, Mo. prosecutor since 1988 and previously worked from 1985 to 1988 in the Shawnee County Dist. Atty.'s office. She also prosecuted the state's murder case against Thomas E. Murray, a Kansas State professor convicted in 2005 of killing his wife.
Jason Allen RoseAge: 21Lives in: LawrenceIn brief: Just days after the last embers of the 76-unit building at the Boardwalk Apartments, prosecutors had charged Jason Allen Rose, the just 20 years old, with setting the fire that killed three people. A former group home resident who had just moved into the 76-unit building months before, Rose had a history of arson during his time in foster care - and a bumpy family background often fraught with abuse and abandonment.
Detective Troy SquireAge: 34Experience: 10-year veteran with the Lawrence Police DepartmentIn brief: Squire interviewed Jason Rose at length in the days following the Boardwalk Apartment fire, eventually capturing a confession that jurors will be allowed to weigh as evidence during trial.
Jose GonzalezFire VictimIn Brief: Described as a free spirit and a dedicated worker, Gonzalez died at 50 years old the night of Oct. 7 in the Boardwalk fire. From Edinburg, Texas, he graduated from high school in San Antonio and had lived in Lawrence for more than three years.He worked for Quality Electric, Inc., when he died, leaving behind two sisters, five brothers and a love for pool, sports and his neices and nephews.
Yolanda RiddleFire VictimIn brief: A social worker with a big heart, Riddle worked for the state Social and Rehabilitation Services in Ottawa when she died in the Boardwalk Fire. She earned degrees from Haskell Indian Nations University, Kansas University and Washington University in St. Louis, and was a member of the Dine Indian Nation.Seldom speaking about the job she loved, it took her death for her family to fully understand the passion she had for helping others. She was 35 years old when she died.
Nicole BinghamFire VictimIn brief: A senior at Kansas University when she died in the Boardwalk Apartment fire, Bingham made fast and close friends during her time at the university and in the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.She survived open heart surgery six years before she died, always assuming that her heart defect, not fire, would end her life.
Judge Jack A. MurphyBirthdate: Oct. 10, 1943Admitted to practice in Mo. in 1971.Admitted to practice in KS. 1982.Contact: 785-832-5248
Ronald F. Evans, defense attorney for Jason A. RoseChief Attorney for the Kansas Death Peanality Defense UnitBirthdate: 1957Admitted to practice in Okla. in 1983.Admitted to practice in KS. in 1996In brief: Evans is a capital crimes attorney who has heard death peanility cases in both Kansas and Oklahoma.
Yolanda Jacksonassociate professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral ScienceEducation: Doctorate from University of Alabama and completed internship at Children's Medical Center in Tulsa, Okla.In brief: Jackson, a child development expert, will be one of the defenses primary witnesses. She has interviewed Rose several times, and will help bolster the defense's argument that because of his background of abuse, his confession to police may not have been accurate.