Jury selection for the murder trial of two Philadelphia cousins in a Johnstown shooting death got off to a slow start Monday, with only three jurors selected by the time court recessed for the day.
Although Judge Norman Krumenacker hoped to work late into the evening, the session was cut short when it was pointed out that there are no lights at the county fairgrounds where the potential jurors park. The jurors are bused to the courthouse from the parking lot.
The defendants are Marquis “G” Neal, 30, the alleged shooter, and Anthony Harvey, 29, who police say drove Neal to and from the murder scene in a minivan.
The men are charged with criminal homicide, two counts of aggravated assault and related charges in the Oct. 2, 2011, shooting death of 21-year-old J-Quan Lewis. Lewis, who was from New York City, had been staying in Johnstown for several months.
The shooting took place in the parking lot at the Oakhurst Homes housing project in the city’s West End.
The shooting followed less than a day after an alleged confrontation between Lewis and Harvey outside Edder’s Den, an Oakhurst bar where Lewis had been celebrating his 21st birthday.
Krumenacker and the lawyers did not begin individual questioning of the potential jurors until 3:30 p.m. Monday.
Earlier in the day, the 102 people reporting for jury duty viewed a video about court procedures, answered a lengthy questionnaire about themselves and then sat through general questioning by the judge.
Jury selection will resume today at 9 a.m.
The trial is scheduled to start Wednesday in the courtroom at the county-owned Central Park Complex in downtown Johnstown.
Many of the potential jurors indicated that they had read about or seen news coverage about the murder.
However, Krumenacker stressed that knowledge of the case alone was not the test of whether a person could serve, but whether that person could be fair and impartial in reaching a verdict.
The potential jurors also were instructed that they could find one or both men guilty, not guilty or guilty of some charges
Both defendants, who are lodged in the county prison in lieu of bond, were dressed in dark suits, dress shirts and ties for the opening of jury selection.
Both men fled Johnstown after the shooting and are charged with flight to avoid apprehension or prosecution. Harvey was arrested Nov. 21, 2011, in Delaware County, while Neal was not taken into custody until March 6, 2012, in New Jersey.