ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Politics are expected to play a role in jury selection for the trial of one of the four young men charged with murder in the 2016 death of their high school classmate.
The attorney for Dominic Johnson is seeking to ask potential jurors if they have supported a candidate for lieutenant governor, Edie Grunwald, KTVA-TV reported . The candidate is the mother of 16-year-old David Grunwald, whose body was found near Palmer in December 2016.
Defense Attorney Lyle Stohler has added several questions about the campaign to juror questionnaires, which are used to streamline the selection process and weed out people who may have prejudice in the case.
People who donated money to Edie Grunwald’s campaign could not be impartial if they were seated on the jury, Stohler told the judge.
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“There are very few witnesses the general public could have given money to,” Stohler told the judge. “That’s not an issue you run across every day. It’s an issue I’m very concerned.”
Judge Gregory Heath added a question that would ask the potential jurors if they could still be unbiased if they contributed money. The defense and prosecutors will have the opportunity to individually interview people before they’re selected for the jury.
“I’m airing on the side of the defense proposing the questionnaire and having it the way they like it because they have greater concerns about people who may have been impacted by the first trial,” Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak said.
Erick Almandinger, one of the four accused, was convicted by a Palmer jury in May of first-degree murder, kidnapping and other counts in the death of David Grunwald.
Johnson is scheduled to go to trial in October.
Edie Grunwald is one of six Republican candidates vying in the primary election Tuesday.
Information from: KTVA-TV, http://www.ktva.com