The final round of jury selection in the trial of Daniel Messel, charged with murdering former IU student Hannah Wilson, was completed Monday afternoon.
Eighty-six potential jurors were narrowed to a final 12, who showed they would be “fair and impartial” during the trial process. In addition, four alternate jurors were chosen.
The trial is expected to last two weeks but could take more time than that, Judge Judith Stewart said.
After considering moving the trial to a different location, it stayed in Brown County where Wilson’s body was found in April 2015.
Wilson disappeared April 23 and was found dead a day later. An autopsy showed she died from blunt force trauma to the head. Messel was arrested shortly after, when investigators found hair and blood in his car, as well as Messel’s phone near Wilson’s body.
More than a year later, Wilson’s family and friends gathered in the courtroom for the jury selection and beginning of the trial.
On Monday, each juror was questioned by Stewart, the prosecutors and the defense lawyer. Then, both the prosecutors and defense would excuse jurors without always giving a reason for their decision.
Prosecutors, representing the Wilson family, stressed the importance to every juror that they should be making a decision based on whether or not the defendant was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than any possible doubt.
They were asked if they knew anyone involved in the case and their relationship to those people.
One juror cried just thinking about the graphic images she would have to view as new evidence was presented.
Juror No. 269 was identified as a biology professor at IU. She has extensive experience with DNA, having worked in labs in the past doing DNA cloning and gene transfer, among other work, she said.
Like many of the other jurors, No. 269 admitted she believes DNA evidence is nearly 100 percent effective.
She was excused after further questioning.
Juror No. 325 was surprised to even be there for the final selection Monday. He was a practicing trial attorney for more than 20 years, he said. In other states, lawyers are disqualified from participating in trials as a juror.
He was also dismissed.
In the end, a jury of four men and eight women was selected.
Though the trial was expected to begin Monday afternoon, jury selection took longer than expected.
Opening statements will be made starting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.