September 5, 2008
Posted: 01:38 PM ET
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – Opening statements and testimony got under way Friday in the trial of Eric McLean. A jury of six men and six women were selected yesterday to decide beyond a reasonable doubt whether McLean is guilty of first-degree murder.
McLean, 33, has admitted he fatally shot 18-year-old Sean Powell last year in Knoxville, Tennessee. Prosecutors say McLean intentionally and with premeditation shot the younger man after learning that he had been having an affair with his wife, Erin McLean. Powell was a former student of Erin McLean’s.
Most of the jurors claimed to know few facts about the case. A couple said they had not heard about the case at all until they were informed by the judge during jury selection.
The jurors and two alternate jurors (one man, one woman) will be sequestered at an undisclosed hotel for the duration of the trial. Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz ordered the panel to avoid all local or national news coverage of the case and provided the jurors with a list of cable channels they can watch. The list includes “Animal Planet,” “HGTV,” and “C-Span.” The judge also ordered the jurors not to speak to anyone about the case and that if they want to speak on the telephone, it must be supervised by court personnel.
Several of the prospective jurors who were dismissed had expressed strong opinions about McLean’s guilt or innocence. One woman questioned McLean’s demeanor during voir dire. When asked by the judge what her concern was, she burst into tears, pointed at the defendant and said “If it (the trial) is important to him, then he needs to stay awake!” Hours earlier, outside the presence of the prospective jurors, Judge Leibowitz asked the defendant if he felt okay. McLean appeared faint and was rubbing his eyes or holding his head in his hands during the morning’s proceedings. His attorney, Bruce Poston, told the judge that McLean had been sick all of Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
McLean’s and Powell’s family members sat in the gallery during jury selection. Powell’s adoptive parents and brother wore a pin bearing his photograph. Powell’s biological mother attended the court proceeding briefly in the morning but left after reportedly making members of the McLean family cry by asking what their reaction would be if someone shot Eric McLean in the head.
McLean faces life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Stay tuned to In Session, we'll continue to bring you live coverage of the trial next week.
-In Session staff
Filed under: Trials
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