BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A Jury has been seated for the trial of Steven Bourgoin, the man accused in a 2016 wrong-way crash on Interstate 89 that killed five teenagers.
Prosecutors confirmed Wednesday that 10 women and six men have been selected. Four of them will later be selected as alternates. The trial is set to begin Monday.
Around 400 questionnaires were sent out to potential jurors in Chittenden County. Attorneys spent the last three days trying to weed out any jurors who may have a biased opinion of the incident or connections to anyone involved.
One by one, Deputy State's Attorney Susan Hardin and Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George questioned each juror on Tuesday.
"Would you be able to put aside the thoughts that you've shared with us today and just listen to the evidence as it comes in?" Hardin asked one potential juror.
There were 50 people in the first pool on Monday and 36 made it to the next round of questioning. On Tuesday, 36 additional prospective jurors started their round of questioning.
"You can't get into the details of the case to any degree of specificity," said Dan Richardson, a Montpelier-based lawyer and WCAX legal analyst.
Richardson says picking a jury can be unpredictable and that a conversational tone works best.
"'Has anyone here ever visited a chiropractor?' Now, that may be because the case involved a chiropractic expert and so you want to get people to describe their experiences, and that way you start to suss out -- does somebody have prejudice against chiropractors?" Richardson explained.
Many questions in court focused on whether jurors had seen or remembered media reports about the crash since 2016. Many said they had heard about it but didn't remember specific details.
Potential jurors were also asked about how they answered their questionnaires and if they were able to miss work for three weeks or more for the trial. Some had conflicts and were excused.
Richardson says attorneys are listening to how jurors respond to questioning and want to ensure they will see all sides of the case.
"There's a reason we have juries. They're to have non-legally trained peers, citizens in the community, making these findings. And that's important that a jury is only charged with making findings. It's never charged in making legal conclusions," he said.
Bourgoin has pleaded not guilty to five counts of second-degree murder. He is expected to use the insanity defense, but the state says it was murder. They're expected to call the mother of Bourgoin's child to testify that he has used a car as a weapon before.