Attorneys narrow jury pool from 800

Attorneys are slowly chipping away at the extensive list of potential jurors who could ultimately decide the fate of accused triple murderer Curtis Clinton.
Jessica Cuffman
Oct 11, 2013

 

They started out with 800 prospective jurors, but have since whittled the number down to about 80.

After four days of individual questioning, 41 jurors were chosen to return to Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Tygh Tone’s courtroom on Oct. 28.

Watch live coverage of the trial when it begins at sanduskyregister.com

Tone, prosecutors and defense attorneys will continue questioning the remaining jurors into next week.    In July, 800 people filled out extensive questionnaires about their previous knowledge of the case and their perspectives on the death penalty.

On Monday, attorneys began using the information from those forms to identify the best possible jurors, to insure the trial’s integrity.

Clinton, 42, appeared in court unshackled Thursday, wearing a white button-down shirt and a pink tie. His attorneys, David Doughten and Robert Dixon, were with him.

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter, assistant prosecutor Mary Ann Barylski and Ohio Attorney General’s Office attorney Paul Scarsella are prosecuting the case.

Clinton is accused of strangling to death Heather Jackson, 23, and her two children, Celina, 3, and Wayne IV, 20 months, in a John Street home Sept. 8, 2012. Police arrested him two days after the bodies were discovered.

Clinton was charged with multiple counts of aggravated murder. He faces the death penalty if convicted, given that he allegedly committed the crime in the course of committing other felonies and he allegedly killed children younger than age 13.

He’s also accused of sexually assaulting Celina the day she died and, in an unrelated case, he’s accused of raping a 17-year-old Clyde girl the week before the homicides.

From the narrowed jury pool of 80, the court will move forward with the criminal trial just as in other trials, choosing 12 jurors and an alternate for the weeklong case against Clinton.

If he’s found guilty of at least one aggravated murder charge, the case will move into a second phase to consider the death penalty. In this phase, the same set of jurors will hear evidence presented by Clinton’s attorneys about his background and other circumstances, all intended to sway jurors to reject the death penalty.

Prosecutors will then argue Clinton should be sentenced to death.

Clinton served 13 years in prison for the 1997 killing of Misty Keckler, an 18-year-old Fostoria woman. Keckler’s body was found naked and facedown in a half-filled bathtub, her hands and feet bound behind her back. She was strangled to death.

Clinton was released from prison just seven months prior to the deaths of Jackson and her children.

Comments

shucks

He should have left prison in a box.

starryeyes83

maybe he'll pull a castro this time. We can only hope.

bigdad1205

The family has said they want life with no parole. If they are fine with it why are we wasting peoples time and money. Offer him a the deal and get him to prison.

deertracker

Exactly!

doggie mom

I agree! When certain inmates find out how he killed 2 small babes he will get justice served to him rather unkindly...not a simple poke in the arm!

candleburner

I'm wondering if the prosecutor doesn't want to accept that, that they're the ones looking for a death penalty case and that's why it's going forward. Or maybe Clinton and his attorneys aren't willing to accept the deal, since he plead not guilty to begin with. I think that both sides have to be willing to accept the deal in order to move forward with something like that - like Kevin Randleman did. Once the prosecutor made the deal - and the family was willing to accept it - they placed it on the table for Randleman and he gladly accepted it and it was over.

deertracker

I personally thought that case was handled a bit unfairly. I just didn't agree with all the secrecy. I just think the public is entitled to the facts. I was fine with the outcome though!

doggie mom

What facts were the public entitled to in this case? He was arrested and there was no longer a eminent threat to society but there is a threat to the jury pool and its outcome if it takes that long to get there? Don’t we want to see the right thing done in the end instead of knowing all the horrid details those babies went thru? I know I could live without it.

Nemesis

How do we know the right thing is done unless the process is transparent? There have been a lot of people who everyone just KNEW they were guilty, and then after 10 years in prison, along comes DNA testing, and wouldn't you know, but they had the wrong person. How much more would that happen if trials were conducted in secret star chambers?

2Timothy1-7

Ironic you raise DNA as rumor has it there isn't a match in this case. I stress that's just LE rumor. Also, there is talk these were drug related killings, which may explain why the family doesn't want a trial,

In any event, I wholeheartedly agree with you about the dangers of secrecy and star chambers proceedings. I think there may be some surprises at trial and am wondering if defense counsel will raise the prosecutor's history of alleged drug and sex related misconduct. This may explain why an Assistant AG has been brought in to assist, though that office has the evidence of the prosecutor's alleged drug issues.

starryeyes83

He got out last time for killing that other girl.

Nemesis

He completed his sentence.

starryeyes83

.

starryeyes83

.

candleburner

What kind of bothers me is that these guys are allowed to wear street clothes into the courthouse and it's because they don't want the jurors to be swayed by the defendant's appearance in an orange prison jumpsuit. Personally I think it's a crock!!! I mean I know it's just my opinion but what a guy is wearing doesn't make any difference and obviously - given that there was just that jail employee that was just recently fired for bringing food and alcohol into the prison for the inmates - there might be some security issues and who knows what could be passed thru to them with their clothes and then what could happen. I just don't think it's a smart decision just so they have a better image before the jury - even when a jury isn't present.

deertracker

I disagree! What you wear does make a difference. The prosecutor is going to portray you in a very negative way and only you, the defendant can combat that. An orange prison jumpsuit only helps the prosecution. Remember, they have to be proven guilty!

2cents's picture
2cents

(Attorneys narrow jury pool)

I wish we could narrow the gene pool!

oheaglefl

I agree with doggie mom, Hope they let him in the general population and the word gets out that he not only killed two babies, but had sexual relation with a 3 year old little girl. Won't last long if it's true what they say.