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Jury seated in W.Va. dog slaying trial

June 09, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Potential jurors called for a case involving a man charged with killing his dog by tying it to a set of railroad tracks were asked a variety of animal-related questions Wednesday, including whether they hunt, own any pets or had ever been bitten by a dog.

Nearly five hours was spent whittling a group of 38 potential jurors to a panel of 12 for the trial of Richard William Faircloth, 30, of 509 S. Spring St., Martinsburg, who is charged with one felony count of animal cruelty.

Circuit Judge David Sanders sent the jury home a few minutes after 6 p.m., after they were sworn in by a clerk.

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The trial is to resume today with opening statements at 9 a.m.

Faircloth was charged after his dog, Kujo, was tied to a set of railroad tracks in Martinsburg on Oct. 14, 2004. The dog, a 2-year-old German shepherd/pit bull mix, was killed after its jaw was cut off by a passing train, police have said.

Jury selection began Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Other questions asked included whether potential jurors had ever taken a pet to a veterinarian to be euthanized, and whether any jurors had read or heard any news media accounts of the case.

Nearly every prospective juror raised a hand when Sanders asked whether the jurors, or a family member or close friend, had ever been bitten by a dog.

One man said his dog bit him while he tried to restrain her as she was having a seizure. A woman said her daughter is still afraid of dogs, years after she was bitten.

Others related similar tales, but, after being asked, only a few said they considered the bite to be significant.

After the potential jurors were asked questions as a group for an hour, each was called to a side room to be questioned privately by the judge and attorneys.

As the afternoon wore on, a hush would fall over the room when the door to that room opened. The potential juror would then either walk to a clerk to receive a work excuse - meaning he or she had been dismissed - or back to his or her original seat - meaning the person had been declared to be impartial and might serve as a juror.

A chorus of "yes" was voiced when the 19th potential juror walked back to her seat, and nearly everyone in the courtroom clapped when the 20th potential juror was seated.

The last four potential jurors remaining in the room were then whittled to two alternates.

Afterward, Sanders turned to the group, whom he praised for their patience and high spirits.

"Now is the time to cheer," he told them.

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