More than 400 potential Dallas County jurors will return Friday with questionnaires from attorneys on both sides of the murder trial of Amber Guyger who shot and killed 26-year-old Botham Jean in his apartment last year.
The potential jurors were sent home with an important questionnaire to help whittle down the potential pool in a quest to find a fair and impartial jury.
The questionnaire, which has not been made public, had questions from attorneys on both sides and from the judge. The trial will need 12 jurors and four alternates.
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"Often times a questionnaire would be sent out ahead of time," said Dr. Mary Noffsinger, a jury psychologist. "Such as in the O.J. Simpson trial, potential jurors completed a 75-page questionnaire prior to appearing in court."
Last week, jury selection began with 806 people showing up to court.
"What’s important to remember, too, is when people are exposed to pretrial publicity, they’re also being exposed to content that may not be admissible in court," Noffsinger said. "So the judge] may want to know exactly what they have been exposed to."
On Sept. 6 2018, Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger shot and killed 26-year-old Botham Jean.
The jury coordinator confirms more than 4,000 summons for jury service were mailed out. Last week, the hallways on the second floor of the Frank Crowley Courts building became so crowded that 189-jurors were sent to the basement and then home and another 219 were excused.
"She herself will likely question each and every juror," Noffsinger said.
Guyger's defense team has filed a motion to move the case out of Dallas County but Kemp has taken the unusual, but not unheard of, step of attempting jury selection before ruling on the motion.
"Judge Kemp is doing things a little differently. She wants to hear from the jury pool first, before making a determination," Noffsinger said.
The exposure the case has received, along with the strong, polarizing public opinions that have developed, will be among the primary challenges faced during jury selection. Noffsinger believes both sides should be careful trying to select jurors based on race and gender alone.
"I think that's a cautionary word to both sides right now, that it would be ill-advised and not supported by science if they were to make a decision based on simply what they see of a person coming into the courtroom," she said.
Kemp could rule on the defense motion to change the venue at any time.