[Guest post by DRJ]
The FLDS trials continue in Texas with the commencement of the sexual assault trial of Merril Jessop. The courtroom was standing room only for jury selection:
“Attorneys in the trial of Merril Leroy Jessop, 35, who faces charges of sexual assault of a child, finished general questioning of potential jurors Monday and began the lengthier process of questioning them one by one to seat a jury.
Early Monday morning, Jessop, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, stood in line outside the Tom Green County courthouse with people who will decide his fate as the jury selection process began.
Wearing a blue jacket, tan pants and boots and an American flag tie, he blended in with the crowd, which began assembling at 8 a.m. The last of them squeezed into the courtroom at about 9:45 a.m.
“They had us in there like sardines,” one said.
One court official said the room, filled also with law enforcement personnel and lawyers, was about 30 people over capacity. Members of the media were not allowed in when the jury pool arrived.
Others in the crowd included military service personnel, a candidate for the San Angelo City Council and a Tom Green County commissioner.
About a dozen people were excused from jury duty before noon.
Dozens had lined up inside the courtroom for more than an hour to give reasons they hoped might serve as exemptions.
One clergyman said he had a funeral to attend to that day, although he said he would not seek an exemption. He said this trial is one he is interested in serving on.
Potential jurors standing outside conversed about everything from getting a snack to debating whether punishments they had heard of relating to sexual abuse were too strict or too lenient.”
Jessop is represented by Lubbock attorney Dan Hurley and the State is represented by Eric Nichols of the Texas Attorney General’s office. The point of jury selection is to determine whether a potential juror can fairly hear and decide the case. As Nichols put it: “Standing here today, you haven’t heard a lick of evidence. Can you decide this case based strictly on the evidence?”
EDIT: This website posts what purport and appear to be the State’s Witness List and its Notice of Intent to introduce extraneous acts and offenses.