One of the most anticipated trials in years in Luzerne County is underway. Jury selection began Tuesday for Hugo Selenski’s double murder trial.
It was almost three years ago that police charged Selenski with killing two of the five people found buried in his backyard.
Tuesday 150 prospective jurors showed up at the Luzerne County courthouse. Twelve of them could be the ones to decide his fate. Jury selection is expected to take a while, likely the rest of this week and maybe a lot longer.
It’s a tedious process, but when questioning of jurors wrapped up Tuesday night, lawyers had picked two jurors. They must choose 12 jurors and four alternates.
For the first time since his arrest, Selenski appeared in a shirt and tie. He sat, at times smiling at the prospective jurors, as the judge questioned them.
After years of extensive publicity in the case, all 150 told the judge they were familiar with the Selenski case. Ten of them said they already have a fixed opinion on guilt or innocence, 13 answered they can’t be fair in this case.
Defense attorney Demetrius Fannick said he’s not suprised, “It’s whether they’ve made an opinion about it that matters but knowing about it that doesn’t surprise me at all. Mr. Selenski has always insisted on a jury from Luzerne County. He wants a trial by his peers and that’s what we’re going to try to get.”
Selenski is on trial for the murder of suspected drug dealers Frank James and Adeiye Keiler. Police said they were among five bodies found buried in Selenski’s backyard in Kingston Township in 2003. Selenski was charged with double murder several months later.
Lawyers are questioning each juror separately now. Each are taking 15 to 20 minutes, sometimes more. If they can’t get 12 jurors and four alternates from the group, another 150 will be called in and questioned.