HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — Jury selection is now complete in Dauphin County for the trial of a white former Pennsylvania police officer accused of criminal homicide in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager last summer.
The second day of jury selection resumed around 8:30 a.m., and by 9:45 a.m., the process was complete.
Lawyers and prosecutors needed to pick three more jurors and four alternates to hear the allegations against former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan reports the jury will be predominantly white, with five white men, four white women, two black women and one black man. The were originally four alternate jurors, are all white men, but one was dismissed for health reasons. There will just be three alternates for the trial.
Most all of the 12 jurors are middle-aged or older, and only two – a white woman and a white man – are under the age of 40.
— Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) March 13, 2019
Rosfeld is charged in the June 2018 death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II after Rosfeld stopped a vehicle Rose was in as part of a shooting investigation.
At trial next week, the fact that Rosfeld shot a fleeing Antwon Rose will not be in question. Instead, the jury must decide if the shooting was justified or did Rosfeld act with wanton disregard for human life.
Dauphin County trial lawyer William Costopoulos says it will be tough burden for the prosecution to prove.
“Most police officers walk, most police officers don’t even get charged,” Costopoulos said.
On the first day of jury selection, six women and three men, including the two black women and one black man, were selected.
“Race is a big factor in this case,” Costopoulos said. “You have a white young police officer, you have an unarmed African-American 17-year-old boy that was killed. So race is a big factor.”
Judge Alexander Bicket, from Allegheny County, who oversaw the jury selection, said he planned to revisit the decision on one of the jurors that was seated on the first day. The defense attorneys reportedly objected to one of the black women who was selected.
The judge says he sided with the prosecution who said the defense ruled the woman out because of her race.
In court, Rosfeld listened intently as his defense and the prosecution questioned prospective jurors on their attitude toward police and whether they could be fair and impartial.
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Jurors were picked in Harrisburg because of pretrial publicity, but the trial will begin next week in Pittsburgh. The jurors will be transported to Allegheny County for the trial.
They will be staying in a downtown hotel, where they will be sequestered, meaning they cannot discuss the case or view any media coverage.
The shooting set off a series of protests that went on for weeks, and city and county officials are preparing for possible demonstrations during the trial. However, Rose’s mother, Michelle Kenney, said on Tuesday that she does not want anyone to protest during the trial. Instead, she wants the focus to be on her son.
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