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Jury selection begins in Edgar case

The Kansas City Star, USA
Sep. 16, 2003
Tony Rizzo
www.kansascity.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday September 17, 2003

Jury selection began Monday in the trial of the parents and baby sitter of a 9-year-old Overland Park boy who died in December.

Neil Edgar Sr., Christy Edgar and Chasity Boyd are charged in Johnson County District Court with first-degree felony murder in the death of Brian Edgar.

About 80 of the about 120 potential jurors who reported for jury duty Monday will return Wednesday for a second phase of questioning.

The questioning Monday was limited to issues of pretrial publicity and whether serving as a juror would cause anyone undue hardship.

Another group of prospective jurors will face that initial questioning today, and like Monday’s group, those who are not released will return Wednesday for a more extensive round of questions.

District Judge John Bennett told the group Monday that he expects testimony to begin Thursday afternoon or Friday morning and last about a week.

Brian’s death Dec. 30 and the subsequent charges prompted extensive news coverage.

The potential jurors previously received questionnaires mailed from the court. Many indicated in their answers that they had been exposed to information about the case and had opinions about guilt or innocence.

Most in attendance Monday said they could set aside what they had heard and base a decision on evidence presented in court.

Thirty who said they would have difficulty doing that were then questioned individually or in small groups. Each was assigned a number that the judge and lawyers used to identify them.

Several said they would have difficulty being impartial because the case involved the death of a child.

“A child is dead and I feel the adults are responsible,” one woman said.

Another woman, an elementary schoolteacher, said she had strong feelings about child abuse. Adults in a child’s life have a duty to protect the child, she said.

A man said he would have difficulty because his daughter had once been a playmate of Brian. Another woman said she was a co-worker of Brian’s former foster parent.

Some who said they hoped they could be fair despite having formed opinions were pressed about whether they could vote not guilty.

“I can’t imagine doing that,” one woman responded to the question by Robert Kuchar, lawyer for Boyd.

Another woman simply answered “no” when District Attorney Paul Morrison asked whether she could vote not guilty if he failed to prove his case.

Today’s round of questioning is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

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