The jury has been selected for the Mullis trial.
Todd Mullis is charged with First Degree Murder in the death of his wife, Amy. He is accused of fatally stabbing her in the back with a corn rake on their farm near Earlville last November.
He has pleaded not guilty.
Mullis’ trial got underway in Dubuque County on Monday morning with jury selection, which lasted the entire day. A pool of about ninety potential jurors reported to the courtroom, which was narrowed down to thirty-six jurors. Those thirty-six potential jurors – which included a business owner, a registered nurse and a nun – were asked if they had any knowledge of the case, with about a quarter of them saying yes. Some of those jurors were dismissed, with others from the pool taking their place.
In the afternoon, the State – represented by Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes and Delaware County Attorney John Bernau – questioned the thirty-six potential jurors. Many of the questions revolved around their beliefs – questions such as: “Would you have a hard time finding someone guilty if there were unanswered questions?”, “Is it okay to hurt someone you love if they did something to make you angry? What if they cheated on you?”, “Can actions show us what a person is thinking?” and “Do you have any beliefs that would prevent you from judging someone?” The State warned the potential jurors that if chosen for the case, they would hear medical evidence and see photographs of the victim – and asked if anyone would have a problem with being exposed to that. All said no.
The Defendant’s attorneys – Dubuque attorney Bob Sabers and Des Moines attorney Jake Feuerhelm – also questioned the thirty-six potential jurors. Both sides also asked questions about each potential jurors’ personal lives and backgrounds.
Mullis was present in the courtroom throughout the jury selection.
After two hours of questioning the thirty-six potential jurors, both sides agreed all thirty-six were appropriate to serve. At that time, each sides took turns issuing “strikes”, choosing who they did NOT want to serve.
At the end of the day, they were left with fourteen jurors– a jury of twelve, plus two alternates. Half are men, half are women. Their ages range from young to old, with occupations ranging from a Sous-chef to a retired educator. At least one juror is from the Dyersville area.
Judge Thomas Bitter says the trial is expected to last all week, with witness testimony beginning tomorrow. Trial will get underway at 9 am Tuesday in the North Courtroom on the third floor of the Dubuque County Courthouse. It is open to the public.
KMCH News Director Janelle Tucker is in Dubuque County covering the Mullis trial all week – keep it tuned to KMCH throughout the day and the rest of the week for updates.
photo courtesy of Janelle Tucker/KMCH