Mark Sievers trial: Jury selection continues: Day 4

Friday, the search for possible jurors for the trial of Mark Sievers continues, but the judge says he expects to have a jury set by next Wednesday.

Lawyers for both sides spent much of Thursday asking about the death penalty and continue to do so Friday.

One potential juror was visibly upset when asked about the death penalty. She said she wouldn’t be able to put her head on her pillow at night. Judge Bruce Kyle promptly dismissed her.

As of around 12:30 p.m., there were about 50 people left that were either asked to come back another day for more questions or have not yet been questioned.

Judge Kyle told a group of 20 Friday morning to come back Monday. Several raised their hands with “issues.” The judge reminded them this is a five-week trial. Scheduling issues continue to become more complicated.

“The panel has shrunk,” said Kyle. And it’s continuing to shrink quickly. Ten potential jurors have already been sent home since 8:30 a.m.; some for being against the death penalty and others that now have work or medical issues that weren’t brought up in earlier questioning.

Following a lunch break, court resumed and the judge sent more potential jurors home, telling them to come back Monday.

Again, more people raised their hands with new issues they believe would make them unable to serve. Judge Kyle seems visibly frustrated.

Sievers is accused of orchestrating his wife, Teresa Sievers murder, who was killed in her Bonita Springs home, back in 2015.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Rodgers, who has already been convicted of Second Degree Murder, is now scheduled for Dec. 12 at 1:30 p.m.

He was originally set to be sentenced on Monday. On Thursday, the judge had asked for the sentencing to pushed to December, but Teresa’s family already booked tickets for next week. It’s unclear why the plan has since changed.

ARE POTENTIAL JUROR EXCUSES VALID?

Judge Bruce Kyle heard more reasons about why men and women who could be potential jurors cannot be selected for the jury.

So Kyle is asking potential jurors to prove why they can’t serve.

“The judge is certainly right in asking them to show,” said Attorney Pamella Seay, an FGCU law professor. “To prove what is it that is causing them not to be available. Show me your plane ticket. Show me your diagnosis.”

Seay said if potential jurors cannot prove why they say they can’t serve, there could be consequences.

“The judge does have a lot of power and certainly would be able to hold someone in contempt,”Seay said. “Or let’s say, worst case scenario, someone is actually lying to the judge, you don’t lie to a judge. It’s against the law.”

If a potential juror is held in contempt of court, depending on the infraction, they can be ordered to pay a fine. Or, in some cases, potential jurors could face jail time.

The judge told many potential jurors holiday and travel plans are not legitimate reasons to be excused from the jury.

He said the trial is expected to conclude by Dec. 20.

CONTINUING COVERAGE

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
Morgan Rynor
Justin Kase
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