First phase of Yanez trial jury selection completed

Jury selection for the trial of St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who fatally shot a man during a traffic stop, is nearly complete.

After four days of jury selection, the court has whittled the pool down to the magic number of 23. Sixteen of the final 23 members of the jury are men, 21 are white.

On Monday, the strike phase begins.

That’s when the defense gets to dismiss five prospective jurors without any cause, the prosecution three.

The final panel will be 15, including three alternates.

Jury questioning went smoothly with only one debate ensuing over a prospective juror, an older male, who said he was a lifetime member of the NRA.

He told the court he might have a difficult time setting aside his knowledge about guns and the conceal/carry permitting process.

He said that at least from what he saw and heard, he believed Castile made a crucial mistake when he was pulled over by Yanez.

Prosecutors attempted to get the man dismissed for bias.

But Judge William Leary denied the motion, saying he took the man at his word that he can wait until all the evidence comes in before rendering a fair and unbiased verdict.

Others joining him in the final pool include a Metro Transit driver, a couple of military veterans, and a man who suffers from MS who said his condition and medication wouldn’t be an issue during the potentially lengthy trial.

Opening statements are expected to begin Monday afternoon.