Jury of 6 men, 6 women seated for Michael Rosfeld homicide trial
HARRISBURG — Attorneys zipped through the last leg of the jury selection process in the Michael Rosfeld case Wednesday morning, seating the final three jurors and four alternates in less than 90 minutes.
The jury is made up of six men and six women, including one black man and two black women.
The four alternates are three men and one woman. All 16 will be bused to Allegheny County on Monday for the Tuesday morning start of the homicide trial against the former East Pittsburgh police officer.
Rosfeld is charged in the June 19 killing of 17-year-old Antwon Rose as he fled a felony traffic stop in East Pittsburgh. Rose was black and unarmed. Rosfeld is white.
Jury make up is six men, six women. Three people of color. They’ll be bused to Pittsburgh on Monday for a trial start of Tuesday morning.
— Megan Guza (@meganguzaTrib) March 13, 2019
The second day of jury selection in Dauphin County began at about 8:40 a.m. with more arguing between prosecutors and defense attorneys when Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alexander Bicket upheld his own ruling from the day before in favor of prosecutors’ so-called “Batson” challenge.
Such a challenge lets one side object to the validity of the other side’s attempt to remove a potential juror based on race, ethnicity or sex. Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey had dismissed a 55-year-old black woman Tuesday based on her inner-city neighborhood.
Bicket upheld the prosecution’s challenge at the time but said he wanted to read more case law on the matter. He doubled down on his decision Wednesday morning. The woman was seated as the eighth juror.
Thomassey said the decision is a denial of Rosfeld’s right to remove jurors, and he attempted to dismiss the woman because he felt it was in the best interest of his client.
He alleged that prosecutors were calling him racist — “I have never had that said about me,” he exclaimed — and pointed out that his sister-in-law is African-American.
“I’m this close to saying I want off this case,” he said, holding two fingers mere centimeters apart.
Bicket told him that his objections were noted.
The jurors selected Wednesday morning are:
• A middle-aged white man with two grown children who operates heavy equipment for a living
• A 26-year-old married white man with a toddler daughter and who works as a budget analyst for the state government
• A 41-year-old white man who works in a Harrisburg bar
The juror interview process picked up with a middle-aged man who’d been asked to come back Wednesday after clarifying with his employer as to whether he’d still get paid during jury duty. A heavy equipment operator, the man said he feels “that everybody in this country lies,” but “not all the time.”
He became the 10th juror.
The next man, a 26-year-old budget analyst for the state government, said he’d never heard of the case, and he’d never had a bad experience with police. He, too, was seated on the jury.
One man was dismissed for hardship reasons because he takes a diuretic daily.
The final juror, a 41-year-old man working as a bar back, said he heard a brief blurb about the jury selection on the news and then made it a point not to seek out more information in the case — just in case he was chosen for the jury, he said.
The four alternate jurors are:
- A 45-year-old white man who works in distribution and has two children, ages 17 and 15
- A 50-year-old unmarried white man with no children who works as a service writer at an auto dealership
- A 28-year-old white woman with a 9-year-old child who works in scheduling at a nursing home
- A 47-year-old white man who worked as a civilian with police at the University of Illinois in the 1990s and currently works as an architect with Tesla
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .