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Jury selected, trial starts today

Jessica Cuffman • Oct 29, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Attorneys and Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone seated the 12-person jury after about five hours of court proceedings Monday, finishing up at about 3 p.m.

Another six alternates, four white women, a black woman, and a white man, also were selected.

Click HERE for live coverage of the trial

All 18 jurors will sit through the anticipated week of criminal proceedings, the alternates ready to stand in if one of the first 12 is unable to complete jury service.

Unshackled, Clinton appeared in court Monday dressed in gray slacks, wearing a blue and gray sweater over a white button-down shirt with a blue tie, and white tennis shoes.

Click HERE for continued coverage of the Triple Homicide

If the jury finds Clinton guilty of aggravated murder, they will also hear about two weeks of testimony in the separate death penalty phase of the trial before they decide if he should pay with his life for the alleged crimes.

After opening statements this morning, prosecutors will present their evidence, relying on testimony from police officers, a coroner, witnesses from the scene and a 17-year-old alleged rape victim, who was assaulted about a week before Clinton, 42, was accused of strangling to death Heather Jackson, 23, and her two children, Celina, 3, and Wayne Jr., 20 months.

Friends concerned for Jackson’s well being discovered her body wedged between a boxspring and a mattress inside her John Street home the evening of Sept. 8, 2012.

Evidence will include graphic photos of Jackson and her children’s bodies — a point prosecutors and defense attorneys warned jurors of during Monday’s question marathon.

Already quizzed extensively about their previous knowledge of the case through media coverage, as well as their views on the death penalty, attorneys focused on other important points Monday.

Prosecutor Kevin Baxter asked each juror if they understood the concept of reasonable doubt, what they thought of DNA evidence, and if they could give an alleged rape victim a fair shake in hearing her testimony.

Defense attorney Robert Dixon, representing Clinton, asked jurors about their jobs, interests and associations with potential witnesses, their exposure to any other media coverage, and their views on race and whether it would affect their objectivity during the trial.

About nine prospective jurors were dismissed from their seats at the agreement of the prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge, because of medical issues, scheduling conflicts or blatantly biased opinions.

Baxter dismissed another two, and defense attorney David Doughten another six, the most either party was allowed to, before they reached a final 12.

Once attorneys present their closing arguments in the case and the judge delivers instructions to the jury on deliberations, they will be sequestered at a local hotel each evening after court proceedings until they reach a verdict.

Proceedings will start at 8:30 a.m. today and may continue into next week.


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