Jury selection begins in Dontae Morris murder trial
12:31 PM, Nov 4, 2013
9:09 PM, Nov 4, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. - "Who has heard about, read about, been exposed to anything on television, radio, internet?" said Judge William Fuente.
Dontae Morris could face death if convicted. There's a mountain of evidence against him including dash cam video of the double shooting.
Even in Orlando, finding impartial jurors is already a challenge. Out of the first 40 jurors questioned, 16 raised their hands telling the judge they had heard about the case in the media.
"Just that two police officers were killed,"' said one potential juror. "I'm pretty sure I saw it on the internet," he told the court.
"As I recall, I saw a video of the shooter," he continued.
Police dash cam video captured the traffic stop on June 29th, 2010 when Morris, a car passenger, is alleged to have pulled out a gun and shot Tampa Police Officers Dave Curtis and Jeff Kocab in the head at close range. Both officers were 31 years old when they died. Their murders set off a four day, city wide manhunt.
"I don't remember many details about the actual incident. It was just the officer shooting and the aftermath aftewards," said one potential juror.
Two young widows watched from a balcony-- Kelly Curtis with her hands over her lips. Sara Kocab sat forward in her seat, listening intently as jurors recounted what they remembered about the worst day of these widows' lives.
"The fact two police officers were killed, whether it was by the defendant or not, I have a hard time with that, just to be painfully honest," said another potential juror.
Though 12 jurors will be selected in Orlando, they will be brought to Tampa and sequestered for the trial. Judge William Fuente has already given them specific instructions to stay away from all media about the case.
Jury selection will take several days and because the case is a capital murder trial, the questioning will be intensely rigorous.