Monday morning, 77 people filed into the Nodaway County Division I Courtroom reporting for jury duty for the case of State of Missouri vs. Alex A. Catterson.
Several aware of the case before them, the potential jurors signed in, received their numbers and were seated, filling the jury box, front bench and four rows in the gallery.
Alex Catterson, 22, entered the courtroom and took a seat glancing at his mother in the gallery. His attorney, Samuel Scroggie, sat next to him and poured over a mountain of papers, occasionally handing papers to Catterson to read while they awaited the beginning of the jury selection.
Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice entered the courtroom, followed by special prosecuting attorney Stephanie Watson from Jefferson City, Missouri.
Catterson is being tried for a Class B felony, DWI - Death of another Not a Passenger, after his black two-door GMC truck struck the entrance of The Palms, allegedly striking and killing Northwest student Morgan McCoy on Jan. 7, 2018.
The room was asked to stand as Circuit Judge Roger Prokes entered and took his seat, with that the jury selection process began.
After Prokes said a few words, Rice began asking questions to the potential jury members and taking notes to ensure the members selected would be able to judge the trial impartially and based solely on the evidence presented in the courtroom. Questions ranged from being broad in nature to dealing specifically with the impacts of drunk driving.
When asked if a drunk driver had ever affected anyone, four potential jurors raised their hands. Catterson kept his gaze fixed on a pen he fiddled with as he clenched his jaw listening to the stories of lost loved ones.
Questions of familiarity with one another, Catterson and the case were also included. When asked if anyone called for jury duty had previously heard any information about the case, 56 of the 77 jurors raised their hand and proceeded to share how they had heard about the incident.
When Rice had finished with his questions, the judge called for the second break of the day and those in the room dispersed. Upon returning, it would be Scroggie’s turn to question the potential jury members.
Scroggie began his questions by asking the potential jurors, made up of a seemingly large farming population if any of them had fixed their own farming equipment. He continued the questioning of machinery into asking if anyone had ever experienced vehicular malfunction while operating.
Scroggie then asked if any of the potential jurors followed The Palms owner Erik Schreiber on Facebook or Twitter, none did. He concluded questioning if any had driven by The Palms after the accident, several had.
The judge called for a third recess of the day, a break to select the jury. The recess lasted 30 minutes longer than scheduled, with the 77 potential jurors crowded into waiting rooms and lining the staircase leading up to the courtroom.
At the end of nearly six and a half hours of questioning, Prokes selected 12 jurors along with two alternates.
The trial is scheduled to last until Friday, Feb. 15, beginning at 9 a.m. each day, weather permitting. Opening statements by Rice and Watson will begin Tuesday at 11 a.m. due to road conditions. As a result of the weather delay, the trial could last until Saturday.