(Photo: Philadelphia Police Department) (Photo: Philadelphia Police Department)
After long and heated jury selection, the involuntary manslaughter trial of Jerod Mayo begins in Philadelphia this week. The former NFL linebacker will face a jury of six men and six women after not being asked many questions, thanks to Pennsylvania’s jury instructions.
Jury selection in the Mayo trial began in early September. The jury was chosen by 11 of a possible 12 jurors due to one party being dismissed for an inability to serve. Before the bench trial began, attorneys for Mayo discussed three issues: (1) were Mayo’s NFL earnings relevant to the case; (2) the legal doctrine of “ballistic immunity”; and (3) whether the jury could be impeded by media coverage of the case.
First, Mayo will make a case on whether his NFL earnings would have contributed to the alleged actions. If the defense is successful, then the most likely result would be a finding of no liability.
After an announcement that there would be no further jury questionnaires, attorneys spent the remainder of the jury selection process arguing over whether a member of the media or the general public could be prevented from being a juror. Lawyers argued that each juror should be checked individually (the idea of random selection was rebuffed by both lawyers) and that this process will continue today and tomorrow, resulting in even fewer individual field selection. When asked why they were excluded, jurors asserted that they had an “emotional reaction” to Mayo’s case because of media coverage. Ultimately, however, the judge concluded that anyone questioned was dismissed due to a lack of integrity.
Mayo’s defense team will later argue that “ballistic immunity” applies to cases involving police officers. When asked by lawyers representing Mayo if he would offer them more detail about his self-defense story for the trial, his wife stated that she would refuse any participation in the legal proceedings because of what he has been through and would instead want to “do it herself.”
The victim’s side stated it was not a problem for them to include Mayo on their witness list. They believed that Mayo was going to have more credibility due to his admission to the court that he fired at two times and stopped and relived the fight. Nevertheless, Mayo’s defense team stated that their client was not responsible for breaking the victim’s jaw and that any tape-recorded conversations of his alleged actions will be shown to the jury, as a result of what they said was “inaccurate statements” by the victim.
Pre-trial testimony is expected to begin on Wednesday. It is expected that a few witnesses will testify, including Mayo’s wife (who was the victim’s girlfriend) and the victim’s brother and his wife. There will also be testimony from Philadelphia police and District Attorney’s Office. The trial is expected to last one week, with the jury delivered their verdict on Tuesday.