Slow jury selection process for local murder trial

5:30pm UPDATE  Wednesday’s jury selection continued at a slow and steady pace as the judge and attorneys struggle with finding jurors that they are sure can be fair and impartial. Three more were selected in the morning and then another four in the afternoon bringing the total to 11, with the court needing 1 more as well as a pair of alternates.

The large local media presence brought to the case has made it so of 48 potential jurors interviewed only 3 had heard nothing of the case.

Nine have been dismissed after admitting some relation to the McGruder or Howe families.

Court officials have said off the record that jury selection isn’t moving that much slower than most murder trials in Knox County.

Kelly’s defense attorney is filing a motion to challenge the jury selection process in his murder case.  Kelly, accused of shooting to death 26-year old Jenni McGruder last Easter, is African-American.  His attorney Michael Bianucci is objecting to the low amount of African-Americans being brought forward to serve on the jury.  Bianucci is going to present facts in writing that support his claim and if Judge Scott Shipplett finds his argument compelling the jury pool would be thrown out.

That would throw a wrench into things, but jury selection will continue Thursday morning.

There’s only been one man of color on the jury placed at this point, although Judge Shipplett said when the objection was made in the late morning that the number of African-Americans drawn for the jury is proportional to the county population.

Shipplett says the earliest opening statements could be made is late Thursday morning, with the first witness testimony in the afternoon.

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