Jury selection began Tuesday in the first-degree murder trial of Jason Coday. Superior Court Judge Michael Thompson called a recess four seats shy of a full jury and ordered screening to continue.
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Testimony could begin today if a jury is empaneled as expected.
Coday, 29, is accused of slaying Simone Kim behind Fred Meyer on August 4, 2006. Kim's death was the first homicide in Juneau in five years. Coday allegedly shot Kim several times in front of witnesses.
All sides involved expect the trial to last four to five days once a jury is in place.
Following a 30-minute closed hearing to address media issues and Coday's appearance before the prospective jury, the pool of potential jurors filed into Superior Court shortly after 9:30 a.m.
Coday appeared before the entire pool with a bushy unkempt beard, shackled to a table in his orange state prison uniform. He had asked to wear the clothes in which he was arrested.
During the daylong session, Coday interrupted the proceedings three times. At one point, he berated District Attorney Doug Gardner, saying the prosecutor told the jury pool that he (Coday) "was not getting out."
Coday also admonished his own attorney, ordering David Seid not to dismiss any potential juror.
"I don't want you to dismiss anyone for any reason," Coday said. "It's ultimately my decision."
Coday later scanned the courtroom, then turned to the judge and interjected that he was uncomfortable with people in the court who were dressed in black and red. Those were "gang colors," he said.
Prosecution and the defense questioned potential jurors throughout the day about impartiality, presumption of innocence, understanding of reasonable doubt and media exposure before the trial.
By the end of the day the pool of 60 was reduced to 43. Seventeen were excused.
One juror's personal experience with the justice system would never allow him to side with the prosecution, he said. Another told the prosecution and defense that he hated violence and would have trouble being fair.
A third said it was morally wrong for him to make judgments against others. One excused juror was a former police officer.
Several potential jurors were excused because they had read newspaper accounts, said Thompson. Three were excused after recalling specific allegations printed about Coday's criminal record.
With 10 seats filled, four remained before the court reached a 12-person jury with two alternates. Of the 10 empaneled Tuesday, seven are men.
Before releasing the remaining jury pool, Thompson reminded them to avoid conversations with anyone about the case.
Selection was expected to conclude before lunch. Opening arguments were scheduled for the afternoon. If time allows, the prosecution may call its first witness.
Greg Skinner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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