MANKATO (TEC News) – Jury selection for the Joel Munt murder case was slow and tedious this morning.
Munt is facing multiple felony counts including First Degree Murder for the March 2010 murder of his ex-wife. The shooting happened in front of the couple’s three young children. The children were with Svetlana Munt inside her car at Rasmussen Woods when Munt allegedly rammed her car and opened fire.
After the entire 60-plus member pool of potential jurors were read instructions by Judge Kurt Johnson and then were split into three groups.
One group remained to be questioned today, with a second group sent home to report back Tuesday and the third group on Wednesday.
They have said jury selection could last the entire week.
In the two-and-a-half hour session this morning prior to the noon break, only eight potential jurors were questioned by Judge Johnson, by Munt’s legal team and in a few cases by the prosecution.
Johnson’s questioning consisted asking the juror if they knew any of the lawyers or Munt. He also quizzed them about what they knew about the highly publicized case.
Some claimed to have only heard or seen headlines. Others flat out told the court they knew too much already and believed Munt was guilty.
Some of the defense questions seemed to hint at what Munt’s defense may include at trial.
The defense asked some jurors if they ever knew someone who was “hopeless”, if they’ve ever been afraid of the safety of their children.
They also asked jurors if they knew of anyone who’s been through a difficult divorce. They wanted to know if one juror ever felt ignored by a bureaucracy.
They would ask if jurors watched TV crime shows like CSI, explaining that real life would not be like a television drama.
While some juror seemed ready to make a sacrifice serving on a three week long trial, others said it would prove difficult.
When one woman was asked what her thought’s on Munt were, she replied “It didn’t seem necessary to go through the trial” and “I think he’s guilty from what I know.”
Another woman said “I have an opinion through the media” and had a “weak stomach” and didn’t think she could view grizzly crime scene or autopsy photos.
The fourth juror questioned said she started following the case after driving by the scene of the crime and witnessing law enforcement at the scene.
“I can’t block out what I’ve seen,” said the fourth prospective juror. “I don’t think I can be fair.
Prospective juror five, a young male, said “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a preformed opinion.”
This morning eight prospective jurors were questioned. Two, one male and one female, were seated on the jury.
Jury selection resumes at 1:15 p.m.