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Wednesday, 21 March 2018 13:36

Jury selection begins

• Leader & Times
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of the story recapping Judge Eric Melgren’s remarks and questions during the voir dire process that began Tuesday in the trial against Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein. The other part will go into more detail about questions asked during the process by both the prosecution and defense.
Jury selection has officially begun in the trial against three area men accused of plotting to bomb a Garden City housing complex/mosque home to more than 100 Somali Muslims.
Tuesday morning began the extensive voir dire process needed to pick the men and women who will serve on the jury in the case against Curtis Allen, Patrick Stein and Gavin Wright. After being sworn in, Judge Eric Melgren gave some opening remarks to those in the jury pool.
“Our process for today began with the questionnaire, which you all filled out,” Melgren said. “That saves the court a lot of time and makes this a much more efficient process for everyone.”
Melgren also assured those in the jury panel that neither the voir dire process nor the questionnaire were meant to pry into the prospective jurors’ lives, but rather to make sure the case has as fair and impartial jury as possible and added the jurors could make their responses in private if the subject was particularly sensitive. Melgren then gave his background and had both the prosecution and defense sides introduce themselves briefly to the panel before laying out the indictment charges, which include conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against people and property in the U.S and conspiracy to violate civil rights, among others.
The first questions in the process from Melgren talked about previous media coverage regarding the case.
“I know there has been coverage in the media with this case, but I need you all to keep in mind news reports aren’t always 100 percent accurate, nor are they always complete,” Melgren said. “Especially with a case this long and this complex, it’s not possible to get everything in, nor is it easy to do so.”
After dismissing those on the panel who felt they would not be able to do the juror’s job well due to what they had already heard about the case, Melgren then moved on to a few other scenarios including reminding the jury panelists of the aforementioned charges on the indictment do not equate guilt, which indicated no issues among those on the jury panel.
“And I would also like to remind all of you the government still has a substantial burden of proof in this case,” Melgren said before asking if any of the panelists had any issues. “So even if the defense had chosen  not to present a case and the defendants just sat there silent, it’s still the government’s job to prove its case to all of you beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The prosecution and defense attorneys then presented their list of witnesses currently slated to testify during the trial (which includes FBI agents, KBI agents, and some Liberal residents, among others), after which a few on the jury panel were dismissed for knowing potential witnesses or knowing people close to the potential witnesses. After then telling the jury panel how the end of the trial would work and how he would instruct them on the law, Melgren then concluded his remarks and questions.




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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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