Jury selection narrows pool in murder case

VERO BEACH – Attorneys worked overtime Wednesday until about 6:30 p.m. questioning the final panel of prospective jurors in preparation for the first-degree murder trial of accused killer Michael Jones.

Now that questioning about the death penalty and knowledge of the case has been concluded and more than 100 people released for cause or for legitimate unavailability, Thursday’s activity will be general jury selection as would take place in a non-capital criminal case. 

Nearly 70 people will report back tomorrow to hear instructions about following the law as it relates to reasonable doubt, and about objectively weighing the credibility of witnesses and evidence that will be presented.

If 12 jurors plus alternates are settled upon Thursday, opening arguments could begin as early as Friday. If an impartial jury can not be found from the remaining pool of people, another round of jury summons could be issued. 

Jones, 32, is accused of killing 26-year-old Sebastian River Medical Center nurse Diana Duve in June 2014 by manual strangulation and leaving her body in the trunk of her car in a Melbourne Publix parking lot. 

More than 150 potential witnesses may testify at some point, including law enforcement officers from three counties. Circuit Court Judge Dan Vaughn is presiding over the case. The guilt phase of the trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

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