Jury selection entered its second day on Friday for the trial of Devon Fuller of Bellaire, who stands accused of the brutal killing of an elderly Bellaire woman back in 2012.
There are almost 300 prospective jurors - too many for the courthouse to handle, so, they are filling out their jury questionnaires in the social hall of St. Mary's Church in St. Clairsville.
The jury selection process is being carried out in four sessions: morning and afternoon, Thursday and Friday, with about 70 in each session.
Even at this point, they are all under strict orders:
- Not to discuss the case among themselves
- Not to discuss it even with friends and family
- Not to read, listen to or watch any news coverage of the case
- Not to obtain information about it from any outside source.
Devon Fuller is one of two men accused of the rape, aggravated robbery and brutal murder of 92 year-old Lydia Ashworth in her Bellaire home. If convicted, he faces the possibility of the death penalty, another decision this jury will have to make.
"Remember, the defendant is at all times presumed innocent and therefore you should not consider this discussion to imply in any way that the defendant is guilty of any criminal offense," said Belmont County Common Pleas Court Judge John Solovan. "I simply want you to be aware of the potential possibilities of the case."
The multiple page questionnaire asks about everything from physical hardships to inside knowledge of the case. Potential jurors are told they can't ask for help or clarification, and that there are no wrong answers. But they must tell the truth, otherwise they could be found in contempt and could even face jail time.
The questionnaires will be studied over the weekend, and a narrowed-down number will be called into court starting Monday for individual questioning. In the end, 16 will be chosen, 12 regular jurors and four alternates.
The trial is expected to begin in the last week of February.