Hayden plans to sequester the jury for the length of the two-week trial to help avoid any jury tainting or misconduct this time around.
Jury selection and voir dire consumed most of day one of the Susan Elizabeth Van Note double-homicide trial Monday morning in Laclede County Circuit Court.
Judge Kenneth Hayden called a jury pool of approximately 150 people, separated into two pools of about 75 each, and by approximately 1:30 p.m. the first pool had been whittled down to 15 prospective jurors, nine women and six men. The other pool was called in case of the first pool being tainted, which was the cause of a mistrial in June 2015.
Hayden plans to sequester the jury for the length of the two-week trial to help avoid any jury tainting or misconduct this time around. Potential jurors were not allowed to leave the courtroom or jury room during the entire morning and afternoon session, and only later under complete supervision.
The first pool of about 75 jurors were seated around 10 a.m. as Hayden began selection questioning regarding hardships, including medical issues, work responsibilities and religious objections. Hayden questioned the pool on its ability to only consider the evidence brought before the courtroom and warned them against discussing the case during recesses.
By about 12:30 p.m. around 25 of the potential jurors were released due to conflicts of interest regarding law enforcement, preconceived notions about the judicial system and pre-exposure to the subject and contents of the trial. He called for recess around 1:30 p.m. so the jurors could have lunch and begin to fill out informational booklets.
After recess, Hayden planned to rule on whether or not a pool video camera for the media would be allowed for opening and closing statements. The prospective jurors were then to return home for the evening to gather their belongings to prepare for the trial while staying at a hotel during the entire duration.
No matter how far the trial got in day one, Hayden assured members of the media that opening statements would not be made until Tuesday morning.
Kevin Zoellner, Assistant Attorney General of the Missouri Attorney General's Office, will lead the prosecution along with Camden County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Gilley. The defense team is led by Overland Park attorneys Tom and Tricia Bath as well as Lake Ozark attorney Tim Cisar.
Zoellner and Bath both conducted about a half hour each of voir dire questioning. Some questions included whether anyone had previously served on a jury, was at any time a member of law enforcement, had any personal experiences with the attorneys and/or judicial system, whether criminals have too many rights and numerous questions regarding the Fourth and Fifth Amendments as well as burden of proof and assumption of innocence until proven guilty.
Bath told the juror pool they should expect to see evidence in the form of hair, fiber, DNA, cell phones, cell records, computers and information technology. Zoellner told the juror pool they should expect to hear from a lot of law enforcement witnesses.
Van Note, who was a Lee's Summit lawyer, is accused of killing her father William Van Note, 67, and his girlfriend Sharon Dickson, 59, on Oct. 2, 2010 at her father's lakefront Sunrise Beach home. Prosecutors believe Van Note killed the couple to get hands on her father's will in which she was named executor and Dickson the primary beneficiary.
Prosecutors also say she forged her father's signature on a power of attorney document that eventually led him to him being taken off life support while undergoing treatment at Boone County Hospital where he passed four days later.
Initial proceedings began in September 2013 under Judge Stan Moore. A combination change of venue and judge motion was granted from Camden County, where charges originated, to Laclede County.