Update: As of Tuesday afternoon, 12 jurors and one alternate have been chosen for the Justin Barkley trial. Three more alternates still need to be chosen. Jury selection will continue Thursday.
ITHACA, N.Y. — Six jurors were chosen during the first day of jury selection for the trial of Justin Barkley, the man accused of fatally shooting someone in the Ithaca Wal-mart parking lot more than a year ago.
Barkley, 39, is charged with second-degree murder after allegedly shooting and running over William Schumacher on Dec. 8, 2016.
He attempted to plead guilty to murder on Dec. 19, 2016, telling the court, “I shot and killed Donald Trump purposely, intentionally and very proudly.”
He said he knew where Donald Trump, who was president-elect at the time, would be and waited in the Ithaca Wal-mart parking lot kill him. A judge dismissed Barkley’s attempt to plead guilty to the crime and in January 2017, Barkley was found not competent to stand trial for an undetermined amount of time.
Jury selection, however, started Monday in the case. Four women and two men were chosen to serve, and a third panel of possible jurors was being questioned late Monday afternoon.
District Attorney Matt Van Houten asked questions about whether people could understand how intent plays into this case.
As an example, he said that if he breaks into a home in Tompkins County to steal the Mona Lisa, his intent is to steal the painting regardless of whether it’s in France.
“My intent is my intent,” Van Houten said. “You know what I intended to do.”
He said that the homicide is tragic and warned jurors that the evidence may be difficult to hear.
But he said it’s important the potential jurors are able to differentiate the sympathy they may feel for people from the facts.
“We may never know in this case why what happened happened,” Van Houten said.
Barkley, who appeared to take notes during questioning, is being represented by Attorney Peter Dumas.
When Barkley rejected a plea offer in May, Dumas said, “He has made statements in the past and wants to make sure that the court knows that his previous statements were made under mental disease and defect.”
Jury selection is expected to continue throughout Tuesday.
Featured image: Justin Barkley (left) sits next to his attorney Peter Dumas during jury selection Monday. Photo by Jolene Almendarez/ The Ithaca Voice
Correction: This story initially incorrectly stated the number of male and female jurors selected Monday.