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Jury Selection Begins in Cal Harris Murder Trial

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Jury selection began Thursday in the third murder trial for Owego businessman Cal Harris.

Harris is charged with second degree murder in the alleged killing of his wife Michele Harris in September of 2001.

Our Samantha Bleiweis traveled to Schoharie County Court to see what prospective jurors were asked and how many have been selected so far.

Jury selection did get underway Thursday but it was a slow start. 4 jurors were chosen out of the roughly 90 person pool that reported to Judge George Bartletts courtroom earlier Thursday morning.

One of the reasons it took so long to get to the questioning of potential jurors was the portion when Judge Bartlett asked the pool if anyone needed to be excused from the trial for medical reasons or for prior commitments.

Bartlett informed potential jurors that this trial could take between 6-8 weeks, and over half of the prospective jurors approached the bench to be excused.
After that process the pool was cut in half with about forty jurors left to begin questioning.

14 jurors were selected at random and placed in the jury box, where they were asked questions by Judge Bartlett specifically about their background and if their background would lead them to have any predisposed biases.

He also asked if any potential jurors know any of the attorneys on the case, or any of the over 100 potential witnesses for either side.

Prosecuting Attorney Kirk Martin then had his chance to ask jurors about their understanding of the law, if they understand the meaning of reasonable doubt, and whether or not they are comfortable sitting on a jury for a murder case.
Martin also asked potential jurors if they would have an issue with the fact that the prosecution would not be able to produce a body or a murder weapon in this case and if they would be able to have an open mind to hear all the testimony before coming to a conclusion even without those pieces of evidence.

Defense attorney Bruce Barket was last to question potential jurors--and first began by focusing on the fact that this jury needs to be comprised of ordinary citizens who will use common sense judgement.

Barket asked potential jurors if they were comfortable with the fact that he would not be able to provide them with the answer of what happened to Michele Harris or who committed that crime.

Barket also asked jurors if they were uncomfortable with Harris' wealth.
So far, 2 women and 2 men have been picked to serve on this jury.
Jury selection continues Friday in Schoharie county court at 10 am. We'll have details on hown many more jurors are selected starting tomorrow on our 6:00 newscast.