DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Jury selection is underway for the trial of Josh Brent — the former Dallas Cowboy accused of intoxicated manslaughter.
Brent arrived at the Dallas County Courthouse this morning in a suit jacket and tie. He sat quietly with his hands folded, as Judge Robert Burns explained the selection process and asked questions of the approximately 120 people who were called to jury duty.
Attorneys on both sides of the case requested the size of the jury pool be doubled, due to the high profile nature of the case.
Brent is a former nose tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, who retired last summer to focus on his legal issues. On December 8, 2012, police say Brent was driving drunk — twice the legal limit — when he crashed his car. The passenger in his vehicle, Jerry Brown, was killed.
Brown was on the Cowboys’ practice squad, and was a close friend of Brent.
Of the 120 potential jurors, Judge Robert Burns excused approximately 40 on Thursday. Of those excused, 23 said they could not serve because they could not put aside their personal opinions on Brent to deliver a fair verdict.
“Everybody’s heard of this. Unless someone was living under a rock, you’re not going to find someone who has not heard anything about this case,” said George Milner, the lead defense attorney.
Both prosecutors and attorneys are looking to seat a jury capable of focusing solely on the evidence presented in court, not the information presented in extensive media coverage.
“What’s out there now is just part of the story. There’s a lot more that no one has ever heard. I just want people to come in with an open mind. No precast judgment and listen to what we have to say,” said Milner.
The trial is expected to begin on Monday, and could last ten days to two weeks.
“It’s like we’d do with any other case with this type of publicity. We called out as many people as possible to ensure that we’d get a jury pool with twelve fair and impartial people to render a decision,” said Heath Harris, Lead Prosecutor for Dallas County.
Jury selection resumes on Friday, and Harris says he is confident that prosecutors and defense lawyers will be able to choose a jury.
“We’re confident that not only is the State of Texas going to get a fair trial, but Mr. Brent is going to get a fair trial, and a true and correct verdict will be rendered,” said Harris.
As for Brent, Milner says the former football player is taking things “day to day.”
“This courtroom can’t bring him back to where he was. It can’t bring Jerry back. So what we want is the best possible outcome,” said Milner.
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