1st of 12 jurors selected in trial of former Lufkin nurse accuse - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

1st of 12 jurors selected in trial of former Lufkin nurse accused of killing 5 patients with bleach

Mugshot courtesy Angelina Co Jail Mugshot courtesy Angelina Co Jail
Kim Saenz during jury selection Kim Saenz during jury selection

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – One juror has been selected while three other potential jurors have been dismissed for now as the prosecution and defense teams continue the tedious jury selection process in the capital murder trial of Kimberly Clark Saenz, 38, of Pollok. 

"Most lawyers will tell you that jury selection is the most important part of any given case. I think in a capital murder case, it would probably be that much more the case," said Defense Attorney, Bill Agnew.

Attorney Agnew isn't connected to this trial, but he's served on other high-profile cases.

Saenz is charged with capital murder and five counts of aggravated assault, stemming from a 2008 case in which five people died and five were severely injured at the Lufkin Davita dialysis clinic.

The first of 12 jurors, 2 alternates was seated Wednesday morning.  She is a Caucasian woman, single mother of two from Lufkin.  The process is expected to take a month.

"If she's on the jury, she's going to be somebody who has indicated that if she felt it was the right thing to do, give the death penalty. But on the same token, I mean, she's going to be someone who the defense would have felt like would give them a fair shake as well," said Agnew.

When the jury selection process resumed, Judge Barry Bryan reminded the next potential juror of her oath to answer all questions honestly.  He then explained the role of each person inside the courtroom.

District Attorney Clyde Herrington began by asking the young Caucasian woman her opinions on the death penalty.

"I do not like it," she responded.

The potential juror stated she has one child, is from Lufkin, a high school dropout who later obtained a G.E.D.  Herrington then explained the jurors' role in considering Saenz to be guilty or not guilty. He asked the woman if she would be able to make a decision based off of the facts and evidence presented in court.

"Maybe (if) it looks obvious…I always ask myself, how do you really know?," said the potential juror. "How do you know for sure if you weren't there?"

The potential juror then explained to Herrington her disagreement with the death penalty. She expressed she would agree to a life sentence, or other options, but not the death penalty.

"What was your reaction when you learned this case involved the death penalty?" said Herrington.

"That it was serious," replied the woman.

After further discussion of the death penalty, the woman then turned to face questions from the defense.

In the opening questions, the woman appeared to criticize the questions, which she said limited her ability to respond.

"Those questions are not specific enough. They're too generalized for me to come up with a decent answer," said the potential juror.

Defense attorney Steve Taylor reminded the potential juror that this may be the biggest decision she has to make.

Herrington then asked permission to confer with the defense and the potential juror was asked to wait outside the courtroom.

Both sides agreed to dismiss the potential juror. 

"In a death penalty case, you get to question the jurors individually. Anyone who cannot give the death penalty for religious, moral, or philosophical reasons is automatically excused," said Agnew.

The next potential juror was called in and reminded of her oath taken on Monday.

The older Caucasian woman stated she knew Ryan Deaton prior to this case because he has represented her son.

Herrington briefly described the death penalty and examined the woman's views toward it before passing the potential juror to the defense.

Defense attorney Ryan Deaton explained to the juror that part of her duty would be to hold the state to its "burden of proof."  He asked several more questions before passing the juror.

An older Caucasian woman then took the stand to answer questions from the state and the defense.

She explained she is a retired widow with two children, 6 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.

She said she barely knew anything about the case. She said the information she received was off a KTRE Facebook post.

Herrington then discussed the potential juror's views on the legal system. He questions her in detail about her background and explained more about the workings of capital murder cases.

In its questioning, the defense told the potential juror, "Being a capital juror is a very important burden," said Taylor.  She joined the two potential jurors who were dismissed earlier until further notice.

The jury selection process is expected to take about a month.

Earlier:

Saenz is charged with capital murder and five counts of aggravated assault, stemming from a 2008 case in which five people died and five were severely injured at the Lufkin Davita dialysis clinic.

The Angelina County District Attorney's Office is pursuing the death penalty for Saenz.

Ryan Deaton serves as Saenz's defense attorney.

Judge Barry Bryan began Wednesday's juror questioning by first allowing attorneys for the state and defense to ask any questions. With no questions, Bryan began the selection by calling in the first potential juror.

When she entered the courtroom, the middle-aged Caucasian woman swore to give accurate answers as she took her seat on the witness stand, looking out at the defense and the state.

The state started with questions about the woman's background.

She revealed she was born and raised in Lufkin. She also has two daughters.

After a brief explanation of her background, Clyde Herrington, Angelina County District Attorney, expressed some concern.

"One of the things that truly concerns me is that on your questionnaire, you said if you had jury duty all day Monday through Friday, for 4 to 6 weeks, it could cause you serious financial problems," said Herrington.

The potential juror then stated she was a working single mother.

"It would be a hardship, but I know my duty," she said.

The state then asked her feelings toward the death penalty.

The potential juror said at first she was against it, but her feelings have since changed.

In further questioning, the woman stated she was not familiar with any of the details surrounding the case and therefore had no preconceived notions about it.

Shortly thereafter, the defense was given its chance to ask questions.

 "This will be one of the most important decisions you make regarding the life of a complete stranger. Will you be able to do that?" asked defense attorney Steve Taylor, assistant to Ryan Deaton.

"Given the evidence, yes," replied the potential juror.

Following a brief recess, the defense announced they would accept the woman as the first juror.

Both sides were then called to the bench for a brief discussion with the judge.

The woman was called back into the courtroom. Judge Bryan informed her that she would be seated on the jury and that she would be called back when it was time for her to continue in the case. She was then dismissed from the courtroom until further notice.

Check back here at KTRE.com for continuing coverage.

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