Fifty-eight people were excused from jury service Thursday in the upcoming double murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez.
That tally brought the total number of dismissals to 184 over the past three days, out of 538 people who reported to the first round of jury selection in Suffolk Superior Court.
While most prospective jurors waited quietly during the proceedings Thursday, one woman was irate, telling a court officer that she had previously been called for jury duty on consecutive years due to a clerical error.
Citizens who report to jury selection are supposed to be exempt for three years under state law.
“I’m not doing this!” the woman shouted during a later phone conversation in the lobby.
Meanwhile, Hernandez and his lawyers briefly addressed the jury pool for the third-straight day, with his lead attorney, Jose Baez, smiling as he offered an opening greeting.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, it’s nice to meet you,” said Baez, a high-profile lawyer who won an acquittal for Casey Anthony in a Florida child murder case that garnered national headlines. “It’s my privilege to introduce you to Aaron Hernandez.”
A suited Hernandez stood and said, “good morning, everyone.”
Some in the jury pool responded with a muffled greeting of “good morning.”
The prosecution team members, led by Suffolk First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan, were also present and introduced themselves to the jury pool.
Court officers then handed out written questionnaires for potential jurors to complete, while Judge Jeffrey Locke began hearing hardship claims from people seeking dismissals.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers on Friday will begin individual questioning of jurors who advance past the initial round of screening.
The trial is expected to last up to six weeks, with a tentative start date of March 1.
Hernandez, 27, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder for the drive-by shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtafo in the early morning hours July 16, 2012 in Boston’s South End.
He is already serving a life sentence for the June 2013 fatal shooting of Odin Lloyd, 27, of Dorchester. The state’s highest court will automatically review his first-degree murder conviction in that case at a later date.
Robert Proctor, a Harvard Law lecturer who is also defending Hernandez, also introduced him on a positive note in court Thursday, telling the jury pool that he had “the honor of representing” him.Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.