Half of prospective Pendleton jurors questioned Wednesday dismissed for presuming guilt
There are about 40 remaining prospective jurors. The defense and the prosecution will make a final jury selection Thursday morning, July 1.
On the second day of jury selection for the trial of Salamah Pendleton , about half of the prospective jurors were dismissed after telling the judge they had already made up their mind about the case, and could not be persuaded otherwise.
Out of the 39 prospective jurors questioned on Wednesday, June 30, 21 were dismissed. The vast majority of those told the judge that based on what they already knew about the case, they believe Pendleton is guilty, and do not believe they would be able to set aside those feelings to give him a fair trial.
Attorneys repeatedly emphasized to the prospective jurors that Pendleton is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that the state carries the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crimes for which he stands accused.
"Juries acquit people in this country every day," public defender Steven Mottinger told one prospective juror. "Juries find people guilty every day, too. That's fair."
- Prospective jurors questioned about attitudes toward guns, marijuana in first day of Salamah Pendleton murder trial
Pendleton, 42, is accused of opening fire on two Grand Forks County Sheriff's deputies with an AK-47 after they gained entry to his home last spring in an attempt to evict him and his mother, Lola Moore. Moore and Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte were both killed by gunfire. Grand Forks Sheriff's Cpl. Ron Nord and Pendleton were both also injured in the shooting.
He has been charged with two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and one count each of criminal mischief, terrorizing, reckless endangerment and possession of marijuana with intent to sell it.
Aside from the larger emphasis placed on Pendleton's innocence until proven otherwise, questioning on the second day of jury selection largely mirrored the first. Mottinger questioned prospective jurors about their attitudes regarding their right to own guns, and their approach to conflict resolution, especially when the two conflicting parties have opposing views of an event. Assistant Grand Forks County State's Attorney Ashlei Neufeld also questioned prospective jurors about their attitude toward marijuana.
The remaining jurors will return to the courthouse Thursday morning, July 1, along with the remaining jurors in the pool that was questioned earlier in the week. In total, about there are about 40 prospective jurors.
The defense and the prosecution will make their final selection of 14 jurors, including two blind alternates, on Thursday morning.
The trial itself is expected to start Thursday afternoon. At that time, both sides will give their opening statements, and presiding Judge Donald Hager will give the jury opening instructions.