The jury selection continues to be a tumultuous process in the trial for Jimmy Rodgers in Lee County, who is accused of murdering Dr. Teresa Sievers at her Bonita Springs home in 2015.
No potential jurors were selected Friday to eventually aid in the verdict for Rodgers, which could be as severe as the death penalty.
On the fourth day of jury selection for Rodgers trial, potential jurors may have felt like they were on trial at this point. Some of them have been to court three or four days in a row, continuing to be tasked with answering tough questions by two attorneys and sometimes the judge.
“Have you ever belonged to an organization that has sought to abolish the death penalty?” Cynthia Ross, assistant state attorney, asked potential jurors.
The defense laid out hypothetical questions to potential jurors.
“What are your feelings about the death penalty as an appropriate sentence for that guilty killer,” asked Defense Attorney Jay Brizel said. “Because you have two options: You can give life without parole, or you can give the death penalty.”
Jury selection is guaranteed to roll into next week, something Attorney Peter Dennis in Fort Myers said isn’t surprising.
“There are multiple layers of issues here,” Dennis said. “First, can they be impartial? And, second, are they able to impose the death penalty? Do they have a moral objection to it?”
The potential jurors who made it past Friday’s round were asked to head home, not to talk to anyone about the case, not watch the news and then return to court next week for more questions.
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The second and third potential jurors questioned today will be moving on to round three, which will most likely start on Tuesday.
The court is now questioning the fourth juror of the day. She is a middle-aged mom who says she would be comfortable sitting on a death penalty case.
The first of 20 jurors brought up today was dismissed right away. She told a bailiff on the way up to the courtroom that she had anxiety. Once she entered the courtroom, she was visibly upset and she said serving on this case would affect her health. She wouldn’t be able to concentrate throughout the trial.
The court is now questioning the second juror of the day. He is a young, male student.
20 more potential jurors are expected to face death penalty questions at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the high profile murder case of Bonita Springs doctor, Teresa Sievers.
On Thursday, attorneys only got through questioning 15 potential jurors in the case against Jimmy Rodgers.
Rodger’s defense team still needs to figure out where all the jurors stand on the death penalty. And both the defense and prosecution teams want to know if they are leaders or followers because the decision for the death penalty must be unanimous in Florida.
They spent around 30 minutes asking each one specifically how they would feel about sentencing another person to death.
One woman left the courtroom in tears, but it was not all about asking uncomfortable questions. The defense attorneys cracked jokes and also asked some personal questions,
A local attorney and professor says, this is a tactic to make a connection with the jury.
Meanwhile, Mark Sievers, 51, is accused of orchestrating her murder, and will have to show up to court every day until Rodger’s anticipated five week trial wraps up. Both Sievers and Rodgers are charged with first-degree murder.
His trial will begin immediately afterward.