UTICA — Fifteen jurors have been selected with one more yet to be chosen in the retrial of Kaitlyn Conley.
Jury selection began Thursday morning in Oneida County Court. By the end of the day, 12 jurors and three alternates had been seated. All that is needed is one more alternate, who will be selected Friday.
The retrial is expected to begin Monday.
In May, a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict for the Sauquoit woman who faces a second-degree murder charge in the July 22, 2015, poisoning death of her boss Mary Louise Yoder, a Whitesboro chiropractor.
Yoder died after becoming ill at work from colchicine poisoning, a drug commonly used to treat gout.
Initially, Yoder's death wasn’t investigated as a crime until a family member reached out to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office in October 2015 with concerns about her cause of death. Conley was interviewed by deputies first as a witness, due to her knowledge of the office, before the investigation led her to be charged in June 2016.
The court spent Thursday morning weeding through a pool of roughly 130 potential jurors. Questioning centered on a number of factors such as whether jurors could wipe clean any case knowledge they have gleaned from news coverage of the first trial.
Presiding Judge Michael Dwyer, who also handled the first trial, and attorneys questioned jurors about how much they knew about the case from news reports, whether they could commit to a lengthy trial and if they could consider different types of evidence and witness testimony before making a decision.
"When you listen to testimony, you have to make up your own mind if they (the witness) are credible or not," Dwyer told the jurors.
While questioning the potential jurors, Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Michael Coluzza asked them how they would handle different types of evidence that will be presented and asked them to question themselves whether they could be impartial.
"In this case, after hearing all the evidence, you might have a strong opinion about the material," Coluzza said.
But he urged them to consider everything in the case, "and reach a fair verdict. ... There are cases that are heavy on eyewitness evidence. There are cases that are heavy on forensic evidence."
Also speaking to the jurors was Conley's attorney, Frank Pollicelli, who cautioned potential jurors, "This is a criminal case. A criminal case has the highest burden of proof."
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