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Vang Jury Selected; Trial Now Heads to Hayward

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: Chai Vang was silent as he walked into court. He faces 6 counts of 1st degree intentional homicide and 3 counts of attempted homicide.

Last November 22, on the opening of day of deer season, Vang allegedly shot 9 hunters–killing 6– after they kicked him off their land.

One reason the jury was chosen from Dane County is the heavy media attention on the shootings.

Defense attorney Jonathan Smith wanted to make sure potential jurors were not unduly influenced. "I think all, if not most of you, had indicated you'd read something about this case or heard something about this case from someone. You understand that whatever it is you've read and heard is not evidence."

All sides indicated dealing with the jury pool's media exposure was a big challenge. "I guess what we're asking you to do is un–ring a bell. That may be difficult for some and impossible for others," says Sawyer County Judge Norman Yackel.

Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager is trying the case for the state. She says nearly all jurors had heard of the case. "Some of them had formed opinions, some felt they could put them aside. Others felt as though they could not put those opinions aside."

Mary Mclain was one of those jurors who felt she could not put aside her opinions. "He's trying to claim self defense. How can it be self defense when he shot them in the back and there are six of them? I already have a hard time believing that."

Mclain was the 1st juror excused.

Just a couple hours later they arrived at the final 14; 10 women, 4 men - all white.

Neither side would directly comment on the racial make–up of the jury.

"There are plusses and minuses on a number of issues as far as the make–up of the jury," says defense attorney Steve Kohn.

The 14 jurors are now headed north. The actual trial starts Saturday morning in Hayward and is expected to last a couple weeks.


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