BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Day two of a second attempt to select a jury got underway Tuesday in the trial of a metro Atlanta man charged with killing his toddler son who died after being left in a hot SUV.
The first round of questions for potential jurors in the case against Justin Ross Harris revealed a fairly technologically savvy pool, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, (http://bit.ly/2cXbMtV) reported.
More than a third of the initial 36 say they have worked in the computer field. Only one prospective juror does not regularly use a laptop or computer. Only three were not familiar with Facebook. Only four do not regularly text on their cellphones. The case was widely publicized in the news media and on social media sites.
The panel was asked if any of them were familiar with the computer messaging systems used by Harris, such as Kik. Only four prospective jurors said they knew about it. Almost a dozen said they’d used a computer messaging system to communicate with someone they didn’t know.
Some other characteristics of the prospective jurors include 25 of the three dozen said they regularly attend a church, mosque, temple or other religious institution; 20 either are members of or have close friends or family members who have training or experience in law enforcement; and 16 said they have watched legal documentaries, such as “Making a Murderer, or listened to podcasts.
Harris, 35, who moved to Georgia in 2012 from Alabama, is charged with murder in the June 2014 death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper. Nearly three weeks of efforts to find an impartial jury in Cobb County fell apart in May, with the judge agreeing to move the case because of pretrial publicity.
Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark reconvened the trial Monday in coastal Glynn County, where about 250 people were summoned to jury duty. Two weeks have been set aside to seat a jury.
“It’s not a case where you can pick a jury in one day or two,” Staley Clark said before adjourning for the evening Monday.
The judge began questioning the first group of 36 potential jurors Monday afternoon. Of those, 27 said they had previously seen news stories or other information about Harris’ case. And 19 panelists, just over half, said they had expressed or formed an opinion about Harris’ guilt or innocence.
However, when asked by the judge to stand if they were biased against Harris or did not feel “perfectly impartial” between prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case, all of the 36 possible jurors remained seated.
Prosecutors say Harris intentionally left his son to die at a time when Harris was unhappy in his marriage and looking for relationships with other women. Defense attorneys say the death was a tragic accident.