ROANOKE — As sunlight and the weekend beckoned outside the federal building Friday, those involved in a gang-related trial trudged through another long day of jury selection.
Twenty-three jurors reported to U.S. District Court in Roanoke on Friday, following a total of 92 others who have reported for duty since Monday. Thirty-nine of those have made it through the first round of cuts, with Chief Judge Michael Urbanski still considering a couple more. On Thursday, Urbanski sent home all 21 potential jurors who showed up that morning, and a reason is still unclear.
The attorneys will be back Monday for one last round of jury selection, Urbanski said at the close of the day Friday. Attorneys will whittle the jury down to as many as 18 people Tuesday morning, and opening statements should begin that afternoon. The prosecution is likely to begin presenting its evidence starting Wednesday.
Those who make the final cut will be tasked with reaching a complicated list of verdicts. Eight defendants face a total of 40 charges in this case — one that revolves around alleged racketeering in Danville and involves the shooting death of Christopher Lamont Motley on Aug. 20, 2016 — and jurors will have to deal with each charge separately.
Despite long, dry hours in the Ted Dalton Ceremonial Courtroom this week, spirits have been good among the eight defendants and group of lawyers. They have spoken amiably during breaks, sharing jokes about the case’s slow progress and the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The defendants and their attorneys have been seated at a large L-shaped table that stretches from the gallery almost all the way to the judge. Though they’re all seated together, defense attorneys have made clear they are all working separately. Each defendant has a separate lawyer (or lawyers) representing them.
“We are not a defense team,” attorney Michael Hemenway, representing Kanas Lamont’e Trent, told prospective jurors Thursday.
That’s been especially evident as defense attorney Corey Diviney has spoken to potential jurors. Though most of the talk during jury selection has been about gangs, guns and drugs, Diviney’s client, Tenikqua Fuller, doesn’t face those serious charges. She is facing, as Diviney has explained in court, charges of being an accessory to crimes. Jurors will have to reach a verdict on each defendant separately, as Diviney and others have sought to make clear.