Jury selection began today in the murder trial of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
The jury selection marked the first day of a trial that is expected to last anywhere from six to 10 weeks, The Associated Press reports. The trial is also the first of at least two for Hernandez, who is facing additional murder charges in connection with a 2012 double homicide in Boston.
What should you know about Day 1 of Aaron Hernandez's murder trial? Here are five things:
- What is Hernandez accused of? Hernandez is being charged with murder in the 2013 death of Odin Lloyd, whose body was found a mile away from Hernandez's home with multiple gunshot wounds to the back and chest. Lloyd and Hernandez were friends, but police say the two were involved in a dispute before Lloyd's death.
- How many potential jurors are there? More than 1,100 potential jurors were summoned for the trial, Reuters reports. From that pool, 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected.
- How is the jury selected? Starting today, jurors will be brought into the courtroom in groups to fill out a questionnaire. Jurors who aren't dismissed will then be questioned in a process called voir dire, allowing both prosecutors and defense lawyers to narrow the pool of potential jurors until the jury is selected.
- How will they find 18 people who don't know about the case? Juries must be impartial under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, a juror is not necessarily disqualified if he's heard about a high-profile case such as Hernandez's. In her instructions to potential jurors Friday, Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh told jurors that even those who had heard about the case may still be chosen to sit on the jury.
- What kind of punishment is possible? Massachusetts is not a death penalty state, so Hernandez will not be facing execution if convicted of first degree murder under Massachusetts law. However, Hernandez could potentially face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A trial date has not been set for Hernandez's other two outstanding murder charges.
- Jury selection gets underway in Aaron Hernandez murder trial (Boston's WCVB-TV)
- Aaron Hernandez Indicted for 1st Degree Murder (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- Aaron Hernandez Seeks to Keep 2012 Killings Out of Murder Trial (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- Aaron Hernandez's Mansion Seized Pending Wrongful Death Suit (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)