WAUSEON — With a pool of more than 100 potential jurors gathered in his courtroom, Judge Jeffrey Robinson asked questions about impartiality, potential ties to individuals involved in the court proceedings, and whether those before him had made up their mind about James D. Worley’s guilt or innocence.
When several potential jurors said Monday they had preconceived opinions, the judge reminded them that they would be asked to swear under oath only to consider testimony and evidence presented during trial.
“Many of you have heard something, you may have read something, you may have seen something on social media,” he said. “None of that is evidence in that case.
“Are there any of you who cannot set aside those issues and decide the case based on the information that comes from the witness stand and based upon the instructions the court is going to give you?”
So began in Fulton Common Pleas Court the slow, methodical process of selecting a jury for the capital murder case against Worley, who is accused of killing 20-year-old Metamora resident Sierah Joughin.
Sierah Joughin, 20, was killed in July, 2016, after disappearing while on a bike ride in Fulton County.
Worley, 58, of rural Delta, is accused of kidnapping Joughin on July 19, 2016, after she split off from her boyfriend on a bike ride home. Her remains were found several days later in a shallow grave in a cornfield. An autopsy revealed the University of Toledo student had been asphyxiated.
Worley is charged with two counts of aggravated murder — both with death-penalty specifications — as well as four counts of kidnapping, two counts each of murder, abduction, felonious assault, and having weapons while under disability, and one count each of possessing criminal tools, gross abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
WATCH: James Worley in court
Several potential jurors on Monday were dismissed after they responded in the negative when asked by the judge if they can decide the case based on information, evidence, witness testimony, and instructions given in court. Some were dismissed because they knew the victim’s family.
Others were released for family or other financial burdens related to the duration of the case, which could last up to three weeks once testimony begins. Forty-one jurors were dismissed Monday.
The process repeats Tuesday with a second group of 120 jurors who will answer similar questions. Those who make it through the first round will return later in the week for further questioning.
After a jury is seated, testimony is expected to begin March 12.
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