TAMPA — Eleven are women. Five are men. At least four have children close in age to Sarah Lunde, the 13-year-old girl murdered and dumped in a Ruskin fish pond in 2005.
But they all pledged not to allow their personal circumstances to influence their decision in the trial of David Lee Onstott, charged with first-degree murder and attempted sexual battery in Lunde's death.
It took nearly two days of attorney questioning to select 12 jurors and four alternates from a pool of 80. In the final hour, as prosecutors and public defenders eliminated people from the panel, Onstott was quick to tell his attorneys which ones he wanted stricken from the group.
Public defenders eliminated a woman who had been molested as a child, and another who said she had nightmares about the case.
The final 16 don't know Onstott is a sex offender, or that he made a reported confession — a confession that a judge tossed out because detectives ignored Onstott's requests for an attorney.
Anyone who knew was dismissed immediately.
The jurors have never been victims of a violent crime, and told attorneys they could stomach graphic evidence photos. They swore they hadn't been exposed to media accounts that reveal details of the case, and promised to ignore any publicity of the trial.
They'll have to do that for several days, as the trial is expected to spill into next week. Attorneys are expected to give their opening statements today.
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3354.