Attorneys excuse hundreds of potential jurors

San Jose Mercury News/January 27, 2005

Fresno, Calif. -- Attorneys heard hundreds of excuses - from the mundane to the bizarre - from Fresno County residents trying to avoid serving as a juror in Marcus Wesson's murder trial.

Most of the 175 potential jurors who were dismissed by attorneys named everyday responsibilities such as childcare or pressing jobs as reasons they couldn't spend three months hearing the details of the multiple murder and sex crimes case.

Some had reasons that were more unusual. One woman was excused after she explained she was the only instructor for left-handed dental hygienists. Her students needed her, she said, "because it's a right-handed world."

Another woman tried to get out of serving by saying her truck gets only six miles to the gallon, which would present a hardship to her because she lives in Auberry, 45 minutes from Fresno. The attorneys told her to return to the jury pool.

Others said they had to care for sick pets, or asked to be excused because they had previously scheduled vacations.

About 30 were dismissed after being questioned by the judge, but some 300 people didn't offer a hardship excuse. They'll be questioned individually in February, along with those whose excuses are rejected.

By the end of February, Wesson's attorneys and the prosecution hope to have selected the 12 jurors and five alternates who will hear the case. They'll earn $15 a day, and decide Wesson's fate. If convicted, the defendant could be put to death.

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