Jury pool of dozens whittled down in ‘Junior’ murder trial
Five suspected Trinitarios gang members accused of first-degree murder in the slaying of 15-year-old Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz last summer sat before a prospective jury pool of more than 70 people Thursday.
Manuel Rivera, Elvin García, Jose Muniz and Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago listened to questions from the defense and prosecution in an effort to evaluate which jurors will ultimately be selected.
On Tuesday, the judge denied a motion to try a fifth defendant, Jonaiki Martinez-Estrella, separately from the other four. He is accused of administering the fatal stab into Junior’s neck.
Surveillance video of Junior’s suspected murder continues to be a focal point during the jury selection. The defense says the prosecution has to prove the defendants wanted to kill Junior in order to be convicted of murder in the first degree.
Roughly 11 prospective jurors took home a questionnaire to bring back Monday. The court needs to fill at least eight more seats.
The judge dismissed dozens of people who were not sure they could stay throughout the course of the trial due to obligations. Opening statements are slated for April 29.
The judge says he wants to wrap up the trial by the end of May.