LEBANON, Ohio - After nearly nine hours of questioning, a jury of 10 women and two men was seated Monday for the trial of a Middletown man accused of killing a Warren County sheriff's deputy during a pursuit last May.
Opeing statements are scheduled for Tursday morning in Judge James Flannery's court.
The pool of potential candidates for the trial was up to 68. The court brought in the potential jurors in small groups for the first phase of questioning. Judge Flannery encouraged the candidates to be honest in their discussion about the case and any pre-existing knowledge of the case.
The judge asked people about any personal connections they have to the criminal case or people involved with the case including police or prosecutors. Judge Flannery also asked about how they get information about current events. He asked if any jury candidate saw, read, or heard any coverage of the deadly crash involving Sgt. Dulle.
He also discussed the fact that the defendent, Marcus Isreal, is an African-American. The judge asked if that fact would have any impact on their ability to fairly judge the case based on the facts presented in court only. He asked if the potential jurors had any experience working with African-Americans and if they ever had any problems or difficulties in their interactions with African-Americans.
"Anybody have any beliefs that for some reason the color of your skin is proof of anything? said Judge Flannery. "That it proves that you're a good person, a bad person, or an in between person? It's a fact of birth isn't it."
The judge also discussed that since this case involves the death of a deputy sheriff, it is understandable that people have sympathy toward the family of Sgt. Dulle. Judge Flannery said it is human nature to have sympathy in this case. "It would be impossible for you to put aside total feelings of sympathy." added Judge Flannery. "You wouldn't be normal if you said you could do that. But what I can ask you, and must insist upon is that you will judge this case without sympathy or prejudice." He said it is important for jurors to be able to set aside those sympathies and listen to the evidence in the case as it is presented only in court.
Each group of juror candidates was notified they would return at 1 p.m. on Monday afternoon for further questions.
Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims was the first one in court Monday morning. He said he plans to sit at the prosecution table for the duration of the trial.
Sheriff Sims said the start of the trial is bittersweet. He said he expected some delays and thought the trial might not start so soon. but added that it is better to get the trial started and ended so that it doesn't have to linger.
He said the past several weeks have been very busy for investigators who met with prosecutors on a regular basis to go over the details for the trial.
The family of Sgt. Brian Dulle also arrived early for the start of the trial. Abbie Dulle, Sgt. Dulle's wife, is expected here for the start of jury selection.
Marcus Isreal is charged with nine counts after prosecutors said he hit and killed Sgt. Dulle, a 12-year veteran with the Warren County Sheriff's Department. On May 10, Sgt. Dulle was deploying stop sticks around 2 a.m. at the intersection of U.S. 42 and Utica Road in Turtlecreek Township. Investigators said Dulle was struck by Isreal's vehicle, a stolen Cadillac, and killed instantly.
Sgt. Dulle is survived by his wife and three children, ages 10, 7 and 4 at the time of the crash.
Some residents who live in Warren County said they will be closely watching the trial.
"It happened on the corner where I live. So, yes, definitely an impact. It's an everyday reminder when you drive by and see the flags and signs. You see people stop by and take pictures. I'm definitely impacted by it," said Pam Ullum, The Donut Shop Owner.
Isreal's attorney, Clyde Bennett, asked for a change of venue in June. Bennett argued Isreal, who is African-American, would likely be judged by an all-white jury in Warren County. Bennett stated that Warren County rarely ever produces African Americans in its jury pool. A judge ruled against Bennett's motions and in favor of the prosecution.
The nine counts are…
* COUNT #1 - Felony 1 - murder with a firearm specification
* COUNT #2 - Felony 1 - involuntary manslaughter with a firearm specification
* COUNT #3 - Felony 2 - aggravated vehicular homicide with a firearm specification
* COUNT #4 - Felony 1 - felonious assault with a firearm specification
* COUNT #5 - Felony 1 - felonious assault with a firearm specification
* COUNT #6 - Felony 4 - receiving stolen property with a firearm specification
* COUNT #7 - Felony 3 - failure to comply with the order of a police officer with a firearm specification
COUNT #8 - Felony 3 - having weapons under disability
* COUNT #9 - Felony 3 - having weapons under disability
Prosecutors said seven of the nine charges included a firearm specification because a handgun was found at the scene where the stolen 2001 Cadillac crashed. If convicted, Isreal faces life in prison.