A jury was selected Monday for the murder trial of former IU professor Don Belton.
Twelve jurors and two alternates were sworn in. This week they will decide if Michael J. Griffin, 26, should be charged with murder or with voluntary manslaughter — a lesser offense for which Griffin and his counsel will argue.
In December 2009, Griffin was arrested and confessed to murdering IU professor Don C. Belton. According to a Bloomington Police Department affidavit, Griffin said he stabbed Belton to death two days after Belton sexually assaulted him.
Defense attorney David Collins and prosecuting attorney Darcie Winkle questioned the potential jurors until they agreed upon a fair and impartial group. The jury selection process concluded at about 4:30 p.m., and the trial will continue at about 8:45 a.m. today.
Potential jurors were weeded out based on how they responded to issues that surround the trial. They were asked questions such as, “What would you do if your own children were homosexual?” and “How would you respond if you were hit on by someone of the same sex?” They were also asked about their feelings toward the Iraq War and — as Griffin served with the Marine Corps in Iraq — their feelings toward war veterans.
Winkle also told potential jurors of the burden that falls on the state, in this case Winkle, to prove Griffin murdered Belton. Collins later stated that if evidence exists that proves it was not murder, it is Winkle’s job to disprove that evidence as well.
Finally, Collins asked the potential jurors, “Do you think every time somebody kills somebody, is it considered murder?”
After different responses, Collins informed the jurors, who knew little or nothing about the trial.
“What if I told you we are disputing that Michael Griffin stabbed Don Belton to death?” Collins said.
“Now you want to know why. Even though the prosecutor said they don’t need to prove why,” Collins said. “If the evidence presents itself, you can consider something less than murder.”