Prospective Jurors Crowd McNease Convention Center on First Day of Capital Murder Trial
SAN ANGELO, TX – This morning at 9 a.m. at the McNease Convention Center, the Isidro Delacruz capital murder trial kicked off with jury selection.
The parking lot of the convention center was completely full and sheriff officers covered the surrounding entrances. The point of this was to make the convention center like a courtroom because of the mass size of the juror selection pool. An event like this would not fit into the Tom Green Courthouse.
About 350 prospective jurors were present for today’s selection.
The Honorable Judge Ben Woodward began by expressing his thanks to the substantial crowd of jurors and their cooperation during the proceedings. “This is your civic duty,” said Judge Woodward, “If you ignore your rights, they can get taken away.”
Judge Woodward explained how the process would go; people would be able to come up and explain if they need an exemption from the trial and then a questionnaire would be given to the jurors to fill out.
Because this is a case regarding capital murder, the jurors can be talked to individually.
Judge Woodward explained that he wanted to make this process easier for the people who are missing their daily lives while the selection is made. Everyone will return to the convention center, however, until the jury is completely selected.
Lunch and snacks are being provided by the city and catered by McGowens Catering Service.
Sidney Walker, the head of the City of San Angelo Civic Events, usually books the McNease Convention Center. He said he was not involved in the negotiations between Tom Green County and the City on the cost to rent the City-owned facility. At a Commissioners' Court meeting last year, the County agreed to pay the City $1,750 per day for use of a portion of the convention center.
Delacruz is accused of cutting the throat of a 5-year-old girl. He faces the death penalty in the capital murder case.
SAN ANGELO, TX – A total of 317 people appeared for the panel today at the McNease Convention Center, which was designated by the Tom Green County Commissioners Court as the Courthouse.
The court tested qualifications, heard exemptions and excuses after the District Clerk gave them the oath. After the court dismissed those who did not qualify, or who were exempt or excused, the panel remained at 282 people.
Court recessed for lunch and returned with the completion of the general voir dire. A voir dire is a preliminary examination of a witness or a juror by a judge or counsel. The State and Defense completed voir dire.
After the panel heard those, they were instructed about communication outside of court and completed a questionnaire.
Court then adjourned for the day. During Judge Woodward’s voir dire he had asked for people to raise there hand if they had heard something about this case, and only a few had not heard. The court did not ask, however, if any of them had already formed a conclusion because that would be a challenge for cause.
Mr. Cowie, Delacruz’s attorney, requested that the court complete that inquiry of individuals at individual voir dire before proceeding with other questions. The request was granted.