Homicide scene photos barred from jury selection
As attorneys hammered out jury selection details for Arturo Navarrete-Portillo’s upcoming first-degree murder trial, Judge James Boyd rejected the defense’s push to show some of the graphic crime scene images to prospective jurors.
Navarrete-Portillo is accused of slaying his wife with a machete in February 2015. He also faces a child abuse charge as his son, then 6 years old, was a witness to the homicide, according to the prosecution.
The discovery is replete with disturbing images that counsel has been repeatedly exposed to, and they’re not easy to look at, said Public Defender Molly Owens.
Public Defender Elise Myer argued that finding people who can handle such gruesome images and at the same time think analytically about what evidence they show – such as how many blows were delivered and at what rate – will be critical to selecting the right jury.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew Barrett argued against showing the images to potential jurors, saying it would be tantamount to presenting evidence during jury selection.
Boyd rejected the defense’s request.
The 10-day trial is scheduled to begin May 31, the same day a trial in a burglary case is set to begin before Judge Daniel Petre.
The court will summon 600 individuals for jury duty in the two trials. Boyd said the court is summoning a high number in the hopes of getting at least 125 potential jurors in his case, and at least 100 in Petre’s case.
If it’s necessary, Boyd might pull potential jurors from the burglary trial.
If the burglary trial is called off for whatever reason, said Barrett, the potential jurors should still show up.
During jury selection, attorneys will first focus upon the potential jurors’ exposure to the case through the media or talk in the community.
The shape of Navarrete-Portillo’s trial could drastically change in the coming days, as Boyd is expected to rules on numerous motions, many of which are defense motions seeking to exclude evidence from the trial.
Navarrete-Portillo is next scheduled to be in court April 28.