Mark Sievers trial: Jury selection proves difficult from the start: Day 1

The search for the 12 people who will decide if Mark Sievers hired friends to murder his wife, Doctor Teresa Sievers is now underway. Jury selection began on Tuesday morning.

A major question for those potential jurors was whether or not they’ve heard of the case or Mark and Teresa Sievers before. But it’s only day one of what is likely a long road.

Mark Sievers traded his orange jail jumpsuit for a blue suit and tie.

He chatted briefly with his defense team before the first group of potential jurors walked into the courtroom.

“This is a lengthy case and there’s no way of sugar-coating it,” said Judge Bruce Kyle. “This case will take about five weeks, maybe a little more.”

The first issues right off the bat were the holidays.

Some potential jurors have already booked flights for Thanksgiving—a little more than two weeks away.

The judge sent home almost half of the first 50 potential jurors, many with travel plans around the holidays.

“I think between the holidays and the length of the trial it’s going to be difficult,” said Erica Baer, a former jury consultant who now works for FGCU.

She sat in on the first day of jury selection and she thinks some potential jurors may already have an idea why they’re there.

“I think she recognized him and how she didn’t want to be there. Give the attorneys every reason to not select her. I think there were, probably after that, some people that were like, ‘Oh maybe I do recognize this guy,'” she said.

The publicity of the trial could make it difficult to find a jury and we’ve already seen some of that on day one.

A handful of potential jurors have heard about the case and some have even admitted they think Mark Sievers is guilty.

The few that said they were unfamiliar with the case were asked to come back later this week as we continue to work to find a jury for this high-stakes case.

It took a pool of about 200 people to find the jury for Jimmy Rodgers; we expect to start out with that same number for this trial.

As the jury selection process continues, those potential jurors will also be asked their position on the death penalty.

If Sievers is found guilty of first-degree murder, they will be needed for the penalty phase of trial.

The two killers are already convicted, including Jimmy Rodgers’ high profile murder trial, last month.

Now, all that remains is the alleged murder mastermind, Teresa’s own husband Mark.

Potential jurors will continue to walk through the door of the courtroom until the final 12 are selected, but as well look ahead to Mark Sievers trial. Prosecutors have a different challenge.

RELATED: Deciders of fate: The psychology that goes into choosing a jury

They will likely move away from the crime scene itself and focus on the days and hours that led up to Teresa Sievers’ murder.

“In this case, we won’t have somebody who is actually accused of participating in the act,” local attorney, Peter Dennis said.

We know Mark Sievers was out of town when Teresa was killed, and for that reason, local attorneys believe the jury will see more cell phone data and fewer crime scene and autopsy pictures like they did during Jimmy Rodgers trial.

One definite similarity in this trial is Curtis Wayne Wright will again take the stand.

It is likely both sides are watching his testimony back to see how the jury reacted to his story the first time around.

In this case, the trial will likely dive deep into the relationship between Mark and Teresa.

“To dredge up so much about her personal life is going to be very difficult,” said Pamella Seat, a lawyer, and professor at FGCU.

Both attorneys agree the big challenge right from the beginning is the jury selection.

Rodgers trial ended just last month, so finding a jury that knows little about the case could be difficult.

Reporter:Andrea Henderson
Brooke Shafer
Taylor Petras
Writer:WINK News
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