MCKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) – Opening statements are scheduled to start Wednesday in the Christina Morris kidnapping trial, as long as a jury can be seated first. Jury selection began Tuesday at the Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, and was supposed to be wrapped up by the end of the day. But the process is taking longer than expected.
It has been more two years since Morris disappeared from a Plano parking garage. Enrique Arochi is the prime suspect in this case. The two were former classmates in high school. Morris was last seen walking with Arochi into the garage at The Shops at Legacy. After finding matching DNA samples in the trunk of his car, police arrested Arochi for aggravated kidnapping.
However, throughout the entire police investigation, Arochi has denied having anything to do with this case. And the location of the 23-year-old woman’s body is still a mystery. To this day, friends and family members of Morris continue to look for any signs of her remains.
The focus this week has been inside of the courtroom, where prosecutors and defense lawyers have been questioning potential jurors. This is a two-step process. First, a panel of more than 100 people filled out a questionnaire on Tuesday to see what they already knew about the case. Then, attorneys started going through each potential juror to try and find the 12 people who can be fair in this high-profile investigation.
Based on Tuesday’s questionnaire, around 65-70 percent of the potential jurors were already familiar with the case. However, the judge stressed that this alone did not disqualify anyone from serving.
About a dozen potential jurors have already been released, but there are still more than 100 people for attorneys to review on Wednesday. Two potential jurors told the judge Tuesday that they did not feel as though they could sit in judgment of Arochi, including one person who knew both the suspect and victim.
The suspect’s attorneys are concerned that their client will not be treated fairly, given the amount of publicity surrounding this case. The disappearance of Morris attracted worldwide attention. But the judge denied a request to move the trial out of Collin County.
While the jury selection process is taking longer than expected, the judge does still believe that opening statements in this case will begin on Wednesday. The courtroom is expected to be packed full for the duration of this trial. Family members of Morris have been at the courthouse every step of the way, and were present again when jury selection started on Tuesday.