Prosecutors, defense identify qualified jurors in Sunhouse murders trial

Updated: May. 7, 2019 at 8:09 PM EDT
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CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Several potential jurors were deemed qualified on day two of jury selection for the trial of a man accused in the Sunhouse convenience store robberies and murders.

Jerome Jenkins is the last man to go on trial in the case.

On Monday, the pool was divided into smaller groups, which will be called back throughout the week, to determine whether they’re qualified to be seated on the jury.

The judge, prosecution and defense ask each person questions individually. The potential jurors are required to take the witness stand, take an oath and answer questions from each party.

Some of the questions pertain to their beliefs regarding the death penalty, if they’ve heard or seen anything about the case or if they know anyone involved in the case.

Many people were both deemed qualified and disqualified for jury selection. Those who were excused were free to go after questioning.

The potential jurors deemed qualified were instructed by the judge to call Wednesday night to see when they need to return.

Upon return, the judge told them to bring a suitcase with a week’s worth of clothes, medication they need, something to read and they are not allowed to bring electronics.

Brad Richardson, a former prosecutor and present defense attorney, said its a very serious duty to be a juror.

“We’ve determined that this is the ultimate penalty so whenever you’re asking someone, you’re asking the state, put someone to death, you need those twelve people. You need those twelve people to make that decision. It’s a heavy burden," said Richardson.

The trial could be split into two phases. The judge said if the jury finds the defendant not guilty, the case and trial will end there. However, if the defendant is found guilty by the jury, the trial will move into the sentencing phase after a 24-hour cooling off period.

In the sentencing phase, the jury is tasked with either sentencing the person on trial to life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

“The ultimate goal for the defense in this: they just need one person," said Richardson, "If there’s been a guilty verdict in this, they just need one person to hang that jury up on sentencing and it converts it into a life sentence.”

Tuesday’s jury selection revealed the state and defense both agreed and disagreed when it came to certain potential jurors qualifying.

Jury selection is set to continue Wednesday morning.

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