LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Of the 125 prospective jurors summoned for a capital murder trial, only one told a judge that she had never heard of Pressly and her grisly death a year ago.
Witnesses expected to testify and potential jurors were asked to identify any connections to them. Judge Piazza excused a number of prospective jurors who had business or personal conflicts, including one woman who said she's a distant cousin of Vance. A handful of people expressed concern over the death penalty but they were'nt immediately excused.
Of the 108 potential jurors left, they sent half of the group home until Tuesday as they continue interviewing the remaining group. They bring in a potential juror and interview him or her, and then bring in another person to interview until they reach a group of six. Once the group of six is reached, they continue the interview before they are dismissed and the process starts over. So, this is why the process has been so time consuming.
The potential jurors have been asked one by one how much media coverage they have read or watched on Pressly's death. In a group of six, they are asked their opinion about the death penalty, if they're familiar about the Heights/Hillcrest neighborhood Pressly lived, and if they've already drawn conclusions about this case. Of course, they are also asked several other questions by both the defense and the prosecution.
Vance's lawyer Katherine Streett has indicated that she plans to challenge DNA evidence and recorded confessions her client gave police. She questioned prospective jurors on Monday, and asked how they would react to evidence being challenged.
Pressly was found beaten in her Little Rock home in October 2008. She never regained consciousness, but prosecutors say they hope DNA evidence can do the talking for her.
Vance is charged with capital murder, rape and burglary. Prosecutors say they plan to use DNA collected at Pressly's home as well as taped confessions from Vance.
Defense lawyers claimed police coerced Vance into giving up a DNA sample in an interview before his arrest. While on the stand for a pretrial hearing, Vance claimed "police trickery" confused him into giving up the samples and the confessions. They also had repeatedly asked for delays in two cases against Vance.
Vance is from Marianna, about 100 miles east of Little Rock.
He has pleaded not guilty. He could face the death penalty if convicted. Piazza said the murder trial could last two weeks.
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