Jury selection for William Morva's capital murder trial began Monday morning amid an appearance by his mother as a witness and questioning of individual members of the jury.Morva is charged with seven felonies including three counts of capital murder, all the result of the events that occurred on the first day of fall classes last year and caused campus to close.
Both the prosecution and the defense interviewed potential jurors, asking questions to clarify the jurors positions on a range of issues. The prosecution tended to ask the potential jurors questions dealing with what they knew about the court system and the different responsibilities of the jury and the defendant. Likewise, while the defense clarified these responsibilities, they also asked more personal questions dealing with thoughts and connections to the parties involved. Both stressed the idea of the death penalty and the open-mindedness of the potential jurors.
Before the potential jurors were brought into questioning, Tony Anderson, a lawyer for the defense, requested a change of location for the trial based on the notion that the tragedy of April 16 may not give Morva an opportunity for a fair trial. Attorneys on the defense questioned potential jurors about any emotional ties to the April 16 shootings in connection with the manhunt that occurred on campus last year in August.
Potential jury members were questioned together, then separately. Initially, five potential jurors were excused on accounts of personal opinions and relationships with the parties involved.
The potential jurors were then excused from the courtroom and asked to come back in threes to be questioned by the attorneys for both parties.
Brad Finch, the Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney, objected to Anderson's method of questioning the individual potential jurors because he believed that Anderson's language was not the same as the language used in the indictments.
Anderson focused his questions on the members' opinions of the death penalty and whether they could be impartial and fair.