Jurors in Unabomber case appear to be conservative 9 women, 3 men picked to hear Kaczynski trial


SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The jurors who are to determine whether Theodore J. Kaczynski was the Unabomber and, if he was, whether he should be put to death expressed conservative attitudes that seem to reflect those of the small towns and midsized cities of this region.

Nine women and three men were selected as jurors yesterday, after more than a month of jury selection.

Because all jurors in capital cases must be willing to impose a death sentence, there are no ardent opponents of the death penalty on the jury.

In general, the jurors said they knew a good deal about the case, and several said they believed that Kaczynski is very likely guilty.

The jurors are anonymous by order of the judge, Garland Burrell Jr. of U.S. District Court in Sacramento, and many details about them are not publicly known. But during lengthy questioning, some of their attitudes became clear.

One woman selected yesterday said she tended to believe the authorities. "They wouldn't just go arrest John Q. Public for being the Unabomber," she said. Said another woman who is on the panel: "I don't have a moral problem with the death penalty."

The jury is drawn from a wide swath of Northern California outside the San Francisco Bay area, a district known for having much more conservative jurors than the district of the federal court in Newark, N.J., where Kaczynski faces charges in other Unabomber attacks for which he could be put to death.

In the California case, he faces charges of mailing or delivering explosive devices with intent to kill four people. Two of the bombings resulted in death. If Kaczynski were convicted of the bombing that killed Gilbert Murray, a forestry official in 1995, the jurors would have to decide whether to impose the death penalty. The other fatal blast, which killed Hugh Scrutton, a computer store owner in Sacramento, occurred in 1985, before the federal death penalty was reinstated.

Main Street attitudes

In their answers to the lawyers' questions during the juror interviews, the final 12 provided a snapshot of Main Street attitudes. Several said they had relatives in law enforcement. The jurors described active, involved lives that were almost the polar opposite of Kaczynski's hermitlike existence.

One woman in her 50s described herself as "a person who has worked in the same place for 31 years and plays by the rules, sort of." A woman who is a California state employee said she was chilled by the randomness of violent crimes.

23 peremptory challenges

Still, as the lawyers for each side exercised 23 peremptory challenges, in which they can have potential jurors excused without offering an explanation, the jurors with the most strident views either for or against the death penalty were eliminated. For the defense, the panel reflected some success because its members seemed committed to hearing what Kaczynski's lawyers have to say.

"Not only must I consider the results of the actions, but also why those actions took place," said one juror.

The actual court proceeding yesterday was subdued, with a court clerk carrying a juror "strike" sheet -- on which the lawyers mark their challenges -- back and forth between the two sides.

Volatile undercurrent

But the start of the day made it plain that there is a volatile undercurrent as the case moves toward trial. Reporters and prosecutors arrived at Burrell's courtroom at 9 a.m. for the scheduled start of court.

The prosecutors were clearly surprised to discover the courtroom barred by federal marshals. A printed schedule indicated that Burrell had begun a private meeting with the defense at 8 a.m.

When public proceedings began at 10 o'clock, it became clear that the unusual closed-door session was a continuation of a similar session Friday. Legal analysts said such sessions without prosecutors suggested a rift in the defense, perhaps including a dispute between Kaczynski and his lawyers about whether they should try to defend him by saying he was mentally ill.

In open court yesterday, prosecutors asked the judge to describe the content of the meetings. Quin Denvir, a defense lawyer, said the discussions involved the defense exclusively and that the "government has no standing" to inquire about the discussions. The judge declined to describe the meetings, saying they involved matters of attorney-client communication.

Perhaps because the lengthy sessions have distracted the defense lawyers, both sides agreed that certain legal issues they had intended to resolve through mutual agreement remain unresolved. As a result, Burrell rescheduled the start of the trial from this Monday to Jan. 5.

Juror profiles

Juror 1: A middle-aged woman with two sons. She was a juror in a gang-related murder trial that ended in a plea agreement. She was very worried about the media intruding on her life.

Juror 2: A young man with a construction-type job for a large company. He once applied to the California Highway Patrol academy and was accepted, but ultimately did not attend.

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