SCRANTON — Thirty-three of a targeted 70 prospective jurors have been pre-qualified in the capital murder case of Jessie Con-ui as the now weeks-old selection process labors on in federal court.
Con-ui, 40, is accused of killing prison guard and Nanticoke native Eric Williams, 34, in a 2013 ambush inside a federal prison in Wayne County. The same jury that determines the inmate’s guilt will be asked to decide whether he deserves to die.
Those who will be tasked with that duty appeared far from certain as of Monday.
One hundred prospective jurors have been excused since the screening process began April 24, records show.
Attorneys will continue to interview 12 people per day until 70 are chosen. The parties will then whittle down the pool until 12 jurors and six alternates are selected.
Only once have more than four prospective jurors been pre-qualified in one day. Seven were pre-qualified Thursday.
Prosecutors say Con-ui, a first-degree murder conviction already to his name, killed again when he beat and stabbed Williams to death. Con-ui’s guilt has not been contested by his attorneys, who argue mistreatment by guards drove Con-ui to commit the crime.
A video that allegedly shows the killing will be shown to jurors during the trial’s guilt phase.
If convicted, the trial will move on to a penalty phase where the same jury will weigh aggravating and mitigating factors in considering a death sentence.
If the jury cannot unanimously agree Con-ui should be put to death, an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole would be imposed.
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