Hundreds of people lined Duckworth Street in downtown St. John’s Monday morning, many of them showing up at the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court building more than an hour before they were required to be there.
About 350 people, all told, were let into the courthouse by mid-morning to participate in jury selection for the murder retrial of 27-year-old Steven Neville.
The 12 jurors and two alternates will be chosen by way of a long and complicated challenge for cause procedure; it’s used, usually by request of the defence, in cases that have seen extensive media coverage. Potential jurors will be asked a series of questions (that are banned from publication) to reveal any biases they might hold that would undermine their ability to be impartial.
Accused murderer Steven Neville granted bail
Once selected, the jurors then become “tries,” having a say in deciding whether or not to accept the subsequent potential jury members.
The process will likely take several days.
Neville is charged with the murder of Doug Flynn and attempted murder of Ryan Dwyer during an altercation in the street on Carlisle Drive in Paradise in October 2010. Flynn was fatally stabbed in the head.
In addition to the attempted murder charge, Neville was originally charged with first-degree murder, and pleaded not guilty. A jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of second-degree murder after a trial in St. John’s in 2013, but the conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada two years later. That court found there were problems with the trial judge’s instructions to the jury, and ordered a new trial for Neville.
The dates for the new trial have been postponed a number of times since then, but things are set to get underway once the new jury is chosen. Approximately three months have been set aside for Neville’s new trial.
Neville, who is not in custody, is represented this time around by lawyers Bob Buckingham and Robert Hoskins. The prosecutors are Jessica Gallant and Jason House.
The presiding judge for the trial is Justice Robert Stack, who began his address to the potential jurors, by acknowledging that being summoned for jury duty is often an inconvenience and thanking them for their participation.