Jury picks slow in L.A. beating trial


LOS ANGELES -- The task of selecting an anonymous jury in the Reginald Denny beating trial began slowly in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom as demonstrators carrying placards reading "No Justice, No Peace" paced outside.

Thirty-nine potential jurors, pulled yesterday from the first day's pool of 118, were asked to fill out a written questionnaire quizzing them about their knowledge of the case, the Rodney King trial acquittals and the Los Angeles riots they sparked.

Jury selection was to resume to day with a second pool of jurors. Oral questioning begins Aug. 5.

For the case, court officials said 3,600 jury summonses were issued in all to people living within a 20-mile radius of the downtown Criminal Courts Building.

Of the 1,200 asked to appear yesterday, 222 acknowledged receiving the summonses but 118 appeared in court -- a turnout that surprised attorneys but was called routine by court officials.

Jerianne Hayslett, a Los Angeles Superior Court spokeswoman, said that the turnout rate is lower in summer months and might have been affected by the anticipated 10-week length of the trial.

Of the 118 prospective jurors in court, 79 were given hardship dismissals by Judge John Ouderkirk.

An anonymous jury of 12, and six alternates, will decide the fate of two men charged in the April 29, 1992, beating of Mr. Denny, telecast live during the onset of the riots.

Damian Monroe Williams, 20, and Henry Keith Watson, 28, are charged with attempted murder and other felonies in the attack on Mr. Denny, 36, and other motorists.

A third defendant, Antoine Miller, 21, will be tried separately.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad