Jury panel chosen in murder case
Nine women and five men were selected Tuesday to serve as jurors in the murder trial of Hugo Silva-Larios.
The panel — 12 regular jurors and two alternates — was selected from a pool of 160 potential jurors, a record for Moffat County.
“I want to sincerely thank you for your participation,” Moffat County District Judge Michael O’Hara said to the men and women who sat through hours of questioning and informational speeches. “I know it was frustrating to sit here for two days and not get picked.”
Silva-Larios, a 17-year-old Mexican national, is accused of shooting and killing James Pogline, 32, in October. Opening arguments in the trial are scheduled today, followed by the presentation of the prosecution’s case. The trial, which started Monday, is expected to last through next week.
The lengthy jury-selection process is an attempt to produce a fair and balanced jury, the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys reiterated Monday and Tuesday.
In their questioning of jurors, prosecutors focused on issues of self-defense and whether jurors would be able to judge fairly a person with a nefarious past.
The defense is expected to argue that Silva-Larios shot Pogline — who has a criminal history — in self-defense.
Defense attorneys focused their questioning on jurors’ understanding of the difficulties someone might face in a foreign country. Two interpreters are providing translation services for Silva-Larios in the courtroom.
Potential juror Larry Kowach was excused from the pool early Tuesday. He left the courtroom happy that he wasn’t chosen for the duty and said his elimination may have been partly because of medical problems he made aware to lawyers.
“I’ll definitely keep track of it,” he said about the trial. “It would have been interesting to sit on it, but I have too many important things to do.”
Others were visibly impatient with the process. One potential juror was upset that she may have to spend the last two weeks of vacation doing jury duty. She eventually was eliminated as a juror.
“I didn’t know what I was showing up for,” she said. “If the trial goes like this, it can’t possibly be wrapped up in two weeks.”
Moffat County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tim Jantz said two days was not an inordinate amount of time to select a jury. Jantz is providing security for the trial.
“It’s not uncommon,” he said. “(A two-day jury selection) doesn’t happen everyday but it does happen. It seemed to go pretty quick.”
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