Approximately two dozen of the 75 Johnson County residents called for jury duty in State of Missouri vs. Emily Usnick said they could not be impartial based on the case involving the death of a child while others said they would be unable to look past if the defendant chooses not to testify, as protected under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

A young mother who teaches high school biography and an older gentlemen with a goatee who was previously selected twice for federal jury duty in Kansas City were two of the 12 jurors selected for an infanticide trial that stemmed from a Miller County drug raid in 2009.
Approximately two dozen of the 75 Johnson County residents called for jury duty in State of Missouri vs. Emily Usnick said they could not be impartial based on the case involving the death of a child while others said they would be unable to look past if the defendant chooses not to testify, as protected under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
A total of nine women and three men, along with two female alternates were chosen in the trial expected to last until Friday or Monday.
Voir dire, or jury selection questioning, got underway Wednesday morning under Senior Judge John O’Malley, a former circuit court judge in New York City and federal immigration judge in Kansas City, who was assigned the case after 26th Circuit Judge Stan Moore recused himself and transferred the case to Warrensburg.
Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Winfrey, sitting in first chair for the State of Missouri, opened up questioning after 10 a.m. and finished up around 12:15 before court adjourned for lunch. Assistant Attorney General Susan Boresi is assisting Winfrey in the prosecution. Missouri Public Defender Jason Emmons, sitting first chair in defense of Usnick and being assisted by fellow Missouri Public Defender Walter Stokely, took less than an hour for the defense’s jury selection questioning.
The total jury pool sat about 2/1 in favor of women to men, with several women in their late 20s or early 30s and mostly older, white men. More than half the room appeared to raise their hands when Winfrey asked who had children of their own.
A total of 16 prospective jurors, 15 of whom were female, stated that they had or currently worked with or for kids in some capacity, mostly through school districts, but a majority stated they believed they could stay impartial. A total of seven perspective jurors stated they had lost a child, one mother just six months removed from a stillborn birth stated it simply would be “impossible.”
Approximately 10 prospective jurors said they would have issues with the defense declining to testify or present rebuttals to prosecution testimony. One man, approximately 40 years of age, said he believed the burden of proof should fall 50/50 on both the prosecution and defense, while others said they wouldn’t be able to make an unbiased decision without hearing something from the defense or  defendant.
When Winfrey explained that the jurors would be seeing and hearing uncomfortable and graphic evidence in the form of autopsy and medical reports as well as witness testimony, a total of nine prospective jurors, six women and three men, said they would be inclined to support the child and doubted they could remain fair or balanced.
At least seven prospective jurors said they had medical issues, caretaker responsibilities or employment conflicts when questioned about personal hardships, while not a single prospective juror openly stated they were familiar with the case, the defendant, attorneys or prior news coverage.
When Emmons took the lectern to begin questioning he told prospective jurors this case would involve the “tragedy of losing a child” and his defendant was charged as part of that tragic event.
The public defender took a more personal approach to the questioning, soliciting prospective jurors to share their experience with pregnancy plans, birth method of the child, home birth considerations, epidurals or other medications, thoughts on smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, complications involving stillborns or miscarriages and whether a mother who was possibly unaware of the father of their child carried a social stigma.
Three prospective jurors said they were either hopeless or dissatisfied in the criminal justice system to serve as effective jurors based on past experiences. Four reiterated they would be prejudiced against the defense if the defendant chose not to testify, while three others responded that the burden of proof fell on the state and the defendant was innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
One prospective juror said he had a bias toward defense teams in general and was unsure if he should serve. Another said he was moving to New Mexico in three weeks and still needed to pack a house worth of belongings.