MASON CITY | An all-white jury of five men and nine women was selected Monday from a pool of 28 people to preside over a second-degree murder trial in Mason City.
Larry Whaley, 61, is accused of fatally shooting Samantha Teeter, 19, through his apartment door in Mason City last December.
Whaley, who is black, has written a number of letters to Cerro Gordo County District Court Judge Christopher Foy, alleging his rights have been violated and that he is being discriminated against because of his race, among other issues.
“Don’t black lives matter in this county,” Whaley wrote on Aug. 6.
He also told the judge he fired into the door because he believed two people he knew were breaking into his apartment.
Douglas Hammerand, one of the state's assistant attorney generals, spent over an hour Monday afternoon questioning potential jurors about topics ranging from whether they knew Mason City officers who investigated the shooting, to being able to realize that CSI — a popular TV series — is not a reflection of how actual court cases work.
After Hammerand finished, Jill Eimermann, an assistant state public defender, spent less than an hour questioning the same pool of 28 potential jurors.
Her line of questioning asked whether they believed Whaley had to testify, and what they believed "presumption of innocence" meant, among other topics.
Hammerand and Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen are prosecuting the case. Whaley's attorneys are Eimermann and Mike Adams, who are court-appointed attorneys.
Throughout the process, some potential jurors helped pass the time with colorful answers to the attorneys' questions. One example was when Hammerand asked if any of the 28 jurors knew each other.
One man did, as a relative was sitting right next to him. Both were picked as part of the final 14 people to preside over the trial.
"We're co-workers, related, beer-drinking partners," the man said, which was received by laughter throughout the crowded courtroom.
After both Hammerand and Eimermann had finished questioning, they took about 10 minutes to select the final jury, which occurred about 5 p.m.
The trial is scheduled to continue tomorrow at 9 a.m., and expected to last at least through this week.