Crime

Jury selection in body shop shooting resumes Tuesday

PASCO — Lawyers in the murder trial of Vicente Ruiz have 15 more jurors to question individually before they try to seat a panel of 12 and two alternates from the remaining pool.

The second week of jury selection wrapped up Friday afternoon, with more people being excused because of scheduling conflicts, too much knowledge about the case or an inability to set aside their opinion about Ruiz's guilt.

Defense attorneys have filed motions asking the court to dismiss the case against their client because of what they claim was mismanagement by the jury administrator for not weeding out all law enforcement officers from the pool or preventing conversations about the case as the people sat around. In the alternative, the attorneys suggest the court determine the current jury pool is tainted and move the trial to another county.

Those issues will be argued next week.

Ruiz, 45, is charged in Franklin County Superior Court with five counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

Prosecutors allege Ruiz and his cousin gunned down six men inside Medina's Body Shop in October 1987. Five men died and the sixth survived.

His cousin is serving a life sentence for his role.

Ruiz first faced in a jury in 2008, but it ended in a mistrial when the defense requested further testing on a piece of evidence.

The second trial started April 19. It is in recess Monday, with jury selection to resume Tuesday.

Since the jury selection process has taken more than the initially anticipated one week, defense attorneys are now telling people they could be sitting on the case through June 18 -- and that doesn't include deliberations.

While being questioned, one juror said he'd seen media reports that mentioned how Ruiz was extradited from Mexico and was curious what that meant.

"It made me wonder if he just went to see family or if he left for a reason," he said. "If (Ruiz) had ran, then he may be guilty, yeah."

The man also said he lives in east Pasco and is nervous for his safety should people in the courtroom with a vested interest in the outcome recognize him in the community, particularly if there is a guilty verdict. He was dismissed.

Another juror who has relatives on both sides of the law told the court he is not open-minded and has already made up his mind without seeing any evidence.

"I don't feel that I'm a very fair person, and if I feel something then that's just the way it is," he said. The juror was excused.

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