600 Called for Unabomber Jury Pool
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ The long process of selecting a jury for the trial of Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski began this morning as hundreds of prospects reported to the state fairgrounds and began filling out questionnaires.
About 600 people were summoned to Cal Expo, which includes the state fairgrounds, to complete preliminary surveys drafted by prosecutors and defense lawyers.
It is the first step in what is expected to be a lengthy process. Once the initial surveys are complete, prospective jurors who say service would pose a hardship will be eliminated. Then there will be a second round of surveys, followed by voir dire _ the individual questioning of prospective jurors _ scheduled to begin Nov. 12.
Reporters and photographers were kept outside the Cal Expo grounds this morning. U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. has issued an order barring the media from photographing or sketching jurors, and has ruled that the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will serve anonymously, at least until the trial has ended.
The news media was also barred from seeing the questionnaire that jurors will complete today; the document will remain sealed until jury selection has ended.
The jury screening was being conducted in a huge tent deep within the fairgrounds. Prospective jurors were told to arrive any time after 8 a.m., and shortly before that hour the off-ramp from Interstate 80 was backed up about a quarter-mile, a parking attendant said.
By midmorning, around 400 people could be seen filling out lengthy forms. Court officials would not say how many pages the document contained, but it appeared to be at least 15 pages long.
``It is a lot larger than our usual jury pool, but we did it the same way. We used a random drawing from the voter registration lists,″ jury clerk Michelle Scott said.
The process was silent. Prospective jurors and the media were advised to treat the facility as if it were a federal courthouse, and no cameras were allowed.
It is the first time in that court’s history that prospective jurors have gathered anywhere other than the downtown courthouse.
Kaczynski, 55, is accused of being the anarchist, anti-technology terrorist known as the Unabomber. The 16 Unabom attacks between 1978 and 1995 killed three people, including two Sacramentans, and injured 23 others.
Kaczynski has been indicted in California in four of the bombings, including the two Sacramento fatalities. He is also charged separately in New Jersey in the third fatal attack.
He has pleaded innocent to all charges. If convicted, he could get the death penalty.
The FBI dubbed the bomber the ``Unabomber″ him because many of his initial targets were linked to universities and airlines. He claimed in a widely published manifesto to be on a rampage against technology and modern industrial society. He killed and maimed to gain attention for his cause, he said in the document.
Kaczynski, a Harvard-educated former math professor turned recluse, was apprehended after his brother told authorities that he had read the rambling manifesto and thought some ideas and phrases were similar to his sibling’s.