Jury selection in the trial of Terry Sturgis began Monday and moved forward slowly as attorneys questioned potential jurors one-by-one about whether pre-trial publicity would affect their ability to be fair.
Court wrapped up for the day around 4:30 p.m. because Sturgis has to leave by then on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to get dialysis treatment.
So far, no jurors have been seated, 12 were eliminated and 13 will be questioned further Tuesday.
The jury selection process is going very slowly….and here’s why: Of the 25 potential jurors who reported Monday, only one of them said she had not heard of Terry Sturgis and had not read about the case in the newspaper or heard about it on TV.
“We may be here forever. I did not know 24 out of 25 would know something,” said Judge Jane Woodward Miller.
From there, the Judge Miller questioned those 24 potential jurors individually who said they had heard about the case. Here are some of the responses those potential jurors gave when the judge asked them specifically what they’ve seen or heard.
“It would be impossible in my mind to say that the guy deserves a fair trial. He’s guilty in my mind," said one potential juror.
“The abuse to this little boy had gone on for a long time,” said another. “The Indiana Department of Children’s Services hadn’t intervened. It seemed outrageous that the state hadn’t intervened.”
“I don’t think Mr. Sturgis can get a fair trial in this county,” added Bill Sniadecki, a South Bend School Board member who was called for jury duty and later excused.
Sturgis arrived in court Monday with a full beard. His attorney asked the judge if he could shave and get a haircut, saying Sturgis has been on suicide watch since he was booked into the jail six months ago and hasn’t been allowed to have either.
After a quick check with the jail, the judge said he would be able to have both a shave and a haircut before jury selection continues Tuesday.
The judge and attorneys are trying to seat an impartial jury. But it seems it’s going to be impossible to seat a jury where every single person has not heard anything about Terry Sturgis or his son Tramelle.
The court called twice the usual number of potential jurors to try and get an impartial jury. So 120 people have been called, with 25 going through the selection process Monday. On Tuesday, two more groups of 30 people are expected to go through the jury selection process.
The hope is to at least have some seated by the end of the day Tuesday.
Usually in a murder trial there are 12 jurors and 2 alternates.