Last Updated: Monday, June 25, 2001, 11:45 a.m.
Fitzhugh jury pool gathered
First 80-member panel called this morning
Eighty predominantly white potential jurors, of varying shapes,
sizes, and ages, piled into Judge Franklin Elia's courtroom in thePalo
Alto courthouse this morning as jury selection began in the trial
of Kenneth Fitzhugh, charged with murdering his wife of 33 years,
Kristine Fitzhugh, in May 2000.
Another 80 potential jurors will be called this afternoon, as
Elia, Deputy District Attorney Michael Fletcher, and defense attorney
Thomas Nolan begin the process of finding impartial and unbiased
jurors, those whose opinions haven't been already swayed by the
heavy media coverage of the murder.
When the trial begins in a couple of weeks, Fletcher will attempt
to convince the chosen men and women that Kenneth Fitzhugh, a husband
with no history of domestic violence and father of a seemingly happy
household, beat his wife's head and strangled her throat until she
Fletcher is expected to claim Kenneth committed the murder because
Kristine was about to reveal to their eldest son Justin that his
biological father was another man, family friend Robert Brown. In
court documents, Fletcher wrote that DNA evidence has proven that
Brown is Justin's biological father.
Nolan is expected to argue that an intruder who entered the family's
unlocked basement committed the crime, and that a botched police
investigation captured the wrong man.
Many jurors claimed hardships in an attempt to get out of serving
on the trial. Some, such as a woman whose elderly and ill father
was going into hospice care today, were excused. Others, such as
the CEO of a fledgling information company, were not so lucky.
One man tried to be let go from his civil duty because a 50th
birthday party was planned for him in Hawaii next month. He told
the court that family and friends had already purchased tickets
and made accommodations for the gathering.
"Can't they come here and celebrate?" Elia asked in jest.
Many in the room applauded when the judge told the nearly 50-year-old
man that he was excused and wished him a happy birthday.
-- Bill D'Agostino