Twelve jurors. Four lawyers. Thirty-eight potential witnesses to testify.
One accused murderer: 30-year-old Anne Norris, who wept throughout the four-hour-long jury selection process for her trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Monday.
At the heart of the case: 46-year-old father of two Marcel Reardon, whose body was found by a building resident under an outdoor stairway at Harbour View Apartments on Brazil Street in St. John’s on May 9, 2016. He is said to have been beaten.
About 200 people had been summoned for jury duty, and they were whittled down relatively quickly.
Justice William Goodridge explained the required exemptions for police officers, sheriff’s officers, correctional officers, and lawyers and their spouses, and potential jurors spoke up with their own conflicts.
One knew Reardon’s family; a couple of others had gone to school with Norris. One was related to one of the defence lawyers, and another was related to one of the potential witnesses.
Others had proof of health issues or had small children at home or were primary caregivers for loved ones.
The Crown and defence each had their chance to deny prospective jurors, for their own undisclosed reasons.
One young man told Goodridge he didn’t think he could be impartial enough to serve on the jury, since he had taken in media coverage of Reardon’s death and already had his mind made up about Norris’s guilt or innocence. Goodridge didn’t excuse him, but told him to step aside for the time being. In the end, the man wasn’t selected.
Fourteen people — 12 jury members and two alternates — were chosen, and Norris’s first-degree murder trial is set to begin next Monday morning, with Goodridge overseeing it.
The judge briefly addressed the jury before dismissing them until then, thanking them in advance and directing them to pay no attention to media coverage of the case.
“What happens in this court is going to be the foundation of your decision,” he told the jurors.
Goodridge also reminded those in the courtroom that Norris is innocent until proven guilty, and the onus to do that will be on Crown prosecutors Iain Hollett and Jeff Summers.
Norris is represented by lawyers Rosellen Sullivan and Jerome Kennedy.
Summers read out the list of witnesses who could be called to testify during the trial, which is expected to last until Feb. 15, explaining it was “over-inclusive” and not all of them may take the stand.
Among them are a number of RNC patrol and forensic officers, experts from the RCMP’s national crime lab, residents of Harbour View Apartments, the province’s chief medical examiner and forensic psychiatrists.
Norris was calm as she was escorted, without handcuffs, into the courtroom, but began to sob as she sat in the dock.
Lawyers will deal with some legal issues until the trial begins.