MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Media from around the world are descending on downtown Minneapolis for the Mohamed Noor trial, which begins Monday morning.
Legal experts say the process of choosing the right jury is crucial in a high profile, controversial case like this one and it’ll take a few days.
Another important element to watch out for is Noor taking the stand.
The shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond spurred international news coverage and sparked protests to reform policing in the Twin Cities.
The 40-year-old life coach had called 911 in July 2017 to report a possible sexual assault happening near her South Minneapolis home.
Noor was in the passenger seat of the patrol squad. He shot and killed her through the open driver’s side window after she approached the squad from behind.
The 33-year-old former cop is now facing three charges in the Australian woman’s death.
“So you got murder two, murder three and manslaughter two,” explained Marsh Halberg, a criminal defense attorney. “Murder two is where you don’t have pre-meditation. You intend your act but you didn’t pre-meditate it. It’s in the moment and that’s the most serious charge that you have here.”
Halberg is a former prosecutor and now runs his own criminal defense firm. He says selecting the most appropriate jurors will be a challenge over the next few days.
“The real concern both prosecutors and defense have is someone with a sleeper agenda. Somebody who either loves police officers no matter what right or wrong or hates police officers no matter what right or wrong. Has a strong feeling whether pro or con against Somalian people and those are the people you are really trying to weed out,” Halberg explained.
Halberg also believes we will see Noor take the stand. Although, that opens him up to cross-examination from the state and possibly additional evidence to be introduced, Halberg thinks Noor’s defense team will take the risk.
“I think it’s almost for sure that Mr. Noor is going to testify I think the defense has done a very good strategy about not letting him talk at all,” Halberg said. “You’ve never heard him say a word since this incident happened.”
There could be as many as four alternate jurors. Each juror will fill out a questionnaire. Then, they will have meetings with the judge to discuss any conflicts of interest or potential bias.
Halberg says the actual trial may not start until at least the middle of the week.