Enlow proceeds in slow jury selection

Joe Murphy

RAVENNA – Portage County Common Pleas Judge John A. Enlow is feeling the exhaustiveness of jury selection.

Enlow is still in the process of choosing 60 to 64 jurors in the trial of James E. Trimble, 45, who is facing three charges of aggravated murder.

As of yesterday, the sixth day of jury selection, Enlow had selected 50 potential jurors. Yesterday, 12 potential jurors were questioned on pre-trial publicity and the death penalty. Seven of the 12 were excused for different reasons. A juror from Friday also was excused after she brought in a medical excuse from her doctor.

Several times during the proceedings, Enlow had to clarify contradictory answers from potential jurors. Enlow sat with his glasses off and his hands over his face as potential jurors debated with themselves whether or not they could give Trimble a fair trial.

“So, you’re telling me you cannot follow my instructions because of moral beliefs?” Enlow asked juror number 166. The juror decided he could not and was excused.

Five of the first six potential jurors were excused.

The day did not get any easier for Enlow, as the second potential juror, number 174, also couldn’t decide if he could put aside his preconceived notions. The potential juror told the courtroom he thought Trimble was guilty, but he said he could put that aside. He then answered the next question by saying the defense will have to prove Trimble’s innocence.

“I think you’re confused,” Enlow told the potential juror. “Let’s clarify this a little bit.”

After some clarification, the juror was excused.

Potential jurors who were not excused were asked to come back at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Enlow will then narrow between 60 and 64 potential jurors down to 16. He hopes to get through 20 interviews today and 10 tomorrow morning if necessary.

The first potential juror in the afternoon, number 193, was dismissed for saying the case was a “slam dunk.” Interviews slowed as both the prosecutors and defense asked a series of questions in an attempt to find out where the potential jurors stood. Enlow listened to a series of objections on the grounds of “already asked and answered.” After the parties were asked to approach the bench, Enlow made it clear what he wanted.

“I wish you wouldn’t ask the same questions I already asked,” Enlow told both the prosecution and the defense.

Two more jurors, numbers 196 and 200, were excused in the afternoon. Juror number 196 was excused because she was a full-time student at Kent State. Number 200 was excused after she said the pre-trial publicity would influence her.

The last juror of the day was called back despite an objection from the defense.

Jury selection continues today at 8:30 a.m.

Contact public affairs reporter Joe Murphy at [email protected].