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St. Marie murder trial: Day 3 of jury selection adds three new members

Nine more potential jurors were interviewed Wednesday on the third day of jury selection in the case of the State of Minnesota vs. Antonio St. Marie. So far, nine Wadena County jurors have been selected to serve out of two pools.

Six jurors were removed during their interview partially because they had already formed opinions that Antonio St. Marie was guilty. One of the jurors was excused for cause, as she noted in her questionnaire that she had previous relationships with Antonio St. Marie, Margaret St. Marie and her brother James Flath, Jr. Another potential juror, a farmer in his 60s, was excused because he had implied that he was prejudiced against African-Americans and immigrants. Considering that St. Marie is an African American male accused of killing his caucasian wife, it was ruled unfair to the defendant.

Of the nine potential jurors interviewed Wednesday, eight were caucasian. One was Asian. Three of the nine interviewed were accepted by both the State and defense - one man and two women.

The indictment against Antonio E. St. Marie, 27, of Wadena, alleges that on Nov. 7, 2016 St. Marie caused the death of his estranged wife, Margaret St. Marie. He is also accused of kidnapping his wife's brother, James Flath Jr., on the same date and location, and possessing a pistol he was prohibited from having.

Jury selection took place at the Wadena County Courthouse in front of Judge Robert Raupp of the Seventh Judicial District Court in Benton County. St. Marie appeared before the judge and potential jurors wearing a grey sweater and glasses. He offered a smile to each juror that was introduced.

St. Marie is charged with nine felony counts. Those include: three counts of first-degree murder with intent, while committing a felony, one count of first-degree murder while committing domestic abuse - with a past pattern of domestic abuse, and one count of first degree murder, premeditated, as well as; two counts of second-degree murder, with intent, not premeditated and while under restraining order for protection; one count of kidnapping and one count of a felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded not guilty to all of those charges.

On Wednesday, six of the nine potential jurors were female.

Most interviewed on Wednesday had at least heard about the case by either the local newspaper, social media, online news, radio or by word-of-mouth.

All jurors selected were instructed not to share anything about the case with anyone, not to investigate the case and not to talk with anyone involved in the case.

Jury selection will continue until 14 jurors are chosen, two being alternates. The plan was that trial would begin Friday morning if enough jurors are selected. The trial will not take place Monday due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The state has a potential witness list of 24-25 people, according to county attorney Ladd. The defense does not have quite that many, but the trial is expected to last two weeks as those witnesses and evidence are examined.

Other than those involved in the trial and three bailiffs in the courtroom, a reporter has been the only member of the public attending.

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