After three days of jury selection in the trial of Jeffrey Conroy, accused of fatally stabbing an Ecuadorean immigrant in Patchogue, just five people have been selected out of an estimated 130 prospective jurors.
The five were picked after extensive questioning from State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle, Assistant District Attorney Megan O'Donnell and defense attorney William Keahon in Riverhead. A portion of the questioning took place in private.
The difficulty of finding an impartial jury in the high-profile case was evident this week as one after another prospective juror excused themselves, saying they had read newspaper articles or watched television reports.
Others were weeded out after stating they had strong feelings, one way or the other, about either immigrants or the issue of immigration.
"Most of my clients in my job are Latino immigrants and they're illegal and I don't believe because of that they should be killed," said one prospective juror.
Another prospective juror, who identified herself as a teacher at Centereach High School, said she had students accused of similar types of crimes.
"It would be hard for me to keep an open mind," she told Doyle.
A young female Commack resident was excused after saying her father "has a huge opinion about illegal immigration."
Asked if she could remain impartial despite her dad's opinions, she said "they've become my opinions as well."
Selection resumes Monday for the remaining seven jurors and four alternates.