SELMER – One woman dropped her head in disappointment into her hands Wednesday evening as the judge announced that she and the 15 others seated in the jury box would be the jurors in Mary Winkler‘s first-degree murder trial. Winkler is accused of killing her minister husband in March 2006.
In all, there are 12 women and four men, for a total of 16 jurors. Four will serve as alternates.
The court has not yet identified which four of the 16 are alternates. Sue Allison, a spokeswoman with the Administrative Offices of the Courts, said she believed they won’t be identified until after closing arguments.
Court will resume at 9 a.m. today with opening statements. It took three days to seat the jury in the high-profile trial that started Monday.
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“It was the longest jury selection I’ve been involved in,” Winkler’s attorney Leslie Ballin said following court Wednesday. “Right now, we’re anxious to start the actual trial.”
McNairy County Circuit Court Judge Weber McCraw said he anticipates that the trial will not run past the end of next week. He announced Wednesday that jurors will work through Saturday this week and then resume the trial on Monday.
Lawyers worked several hours Wednesday afternoon exercising the challenges each side had to remove the McNairy County residents they didn’t want on the jury. They started with a pool of 160 people and narrowed that to the 42 from which they selected the jury.
The court had the jury seated at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday. Jurors were allowed to go home Wednesday, but they will be sequestered, starting today.
Among those excused was a woman who said the Winklers were her neighbors and that Mary’s husband, Matthew Winkler, had once threatened to kill her dog if she didn’t keep it out of his yard.
The courts released descriptions of the jurors, including some information about their sex, age, occupation, race and religious affiliations.
Some did not indicate their occupation or religion on court forms. So, it was marked as N/A for not available. The jurors include the following people:
Female, 33, secretary, white, Pentecostal
Female, 28, teachers aide, white, Church of God
Female, 29, CAD Drafter, white, religion N/A
Female 55, occupation N/A, white, Baptist
Male, 62, truck driver, black, Baptist
Female, 53, housewife, black, Baptist
Female, 62, occupation N/A, white, Baptist
Male, 61, machinist, white, Baptist
Female, 49, housewife, white, religion N/A
Female, 45, customer service, white, Catholic
Male, 53, factory work, white, First Christian
Male, 60, retired, white, Baptist
Female, 62, retired, white, Catholic
Female, 53, mill worker, white, Baptist
Female, 20, occupation N/A, white, religion N/A
Female, 48, housewife, white, religion N/A
McCraw told jurors they could not have cell phones or bring newspapers or magazines that may contain information about the case while they’re sequestered. Also, they cannot have radios, TVs, videos, video games, computers, alcohol, beepers or jewelry.
“No racket at all,” one juror asked McCraw.
McCraw laughed. He pointed out that she had been the juror who wanted to know the identity of the father of actress Anna Nicole Smith’s baby.
The woman was just a potential juror Tuesday evening when McCraw instructed them not to watch the news overnight so they didn’t accidentally view something about the Winkler case.
But the woman told McCraw she’d been following the Smith case and wanted to know the results of the DNA testing.
McCraw told her she’d have to get someone to watch for her and tell her the results.
The court will provide the jurors meals, lodging and transportation.
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