Serial Shooter case still without a jury - East Valley Tribune: News

Serial Shooter case still without a jury

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Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2008 7:05 pm | Updated: 3:45 pm, Wed Jun 19, 2013.

Attorneys in the trial of suspected Serial Shooter Dale Hausner have already questioned 600 potential jurors in the first two weeks of proceedings.

Jury selection starts in 'Serial Shooter' case

As of Thursday, they were still without the jury pool needed to begin opening arguments in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The big numbers, according to a pair of experts, highlight just how hard it is to find a handful of people in the Valley who are able to spend months on the marathon trial and who have not been influenced by the huge publicity and high-profile nature of the case.

"It's a highly charged case for a lot of reasons," said Richard Waites, the chief executive of The Advocates, a nationwide trial and jury research company.

For one, Hausner, is accused of a yearlong shooting spree that left eight people dead and kept the metropolitan area on edge until his arrest in the summer of 2006 at his Mesa home.

The shootings were random, and at the time, many people changed their daily habits to try to lower the risk of becoming victims.

"Most people took notice because of fear for their safety," said Waites.

Another reason the job of finding a jury for Hausner is tough is because the case received so much publicity.

At the time of Hausner's arrest, which also snared Sam Dieteman, who has pleaded guilty to two murders in the case, his name and photo appeared almost daily on television newscasts and newspaper front pages.

In most other high-profile cases, Waites said, some 10 to 20 percent of jurors would likely have followed the case closely. "In this case," he said, "you're talking about something more than that."

Waites also said the number of potential jurors already screened puts the Hausner trial on par with some of the most high-profile trials this decade in the U.S., including those of Martha Stewart and the Enron executives.

Prominent Phoenix defense lawyer Michael Black also said it's easy to understand why the numbers were so high.

Though he is only observing the case from a distance and is not involved, Black said he expects "substantially more" people to be questioned before a solid jury is found.

So far, the 600 people called for jury duty in the case have only had to fill out questionnaires about their personal lives.

They have answered probing questions about their religion, mental health history and political leanings, as well as typical questions about whether they have known anyone in law enforcement or have been the victims of a crime.

Vincent Funari, a court spokesman, said the selection process will move into its second phase next week with attorneys interviewing groups of potential jurors in person.

Black said he thinks lawyers will probably be close to having a jury selected by the end of next week if it isn't selected completely.

Before jury selection began on Sept. 3, Hausner's attorney, Ken Everett, told the court he believed finding a fair jury would be impossible in Phoenix.

He asked for the trial to be moved elsewhere in the state, but Judge Roland Steinle declined, saying he was confident a jury could be found locally.

If the trial had been moved, Black said, "they would have had a jury picked by now."

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