From 600 jury summons to 160 people, that is how many Lubbock residents are set to go through jury selection in the trial of Rosendo Rodriguez. Rodriguez is charged with capital murder in the death of Summer Baldwin and her unborn child. Her body was found inside a suitcase at the Lubbock landfill in 2005.
Rodriguez also reportedly confessed to killing Lubbock teen Joanna Rogers. However, he has not been charged with her death.
Wednesday morning, 183 potential jurors arrived at the Lubbock County Central Jury Pool building. After preliminary questioning, 160 jurors were left to hear from the judge, prosecution, and defense. Each potential juror was given a 20-page questionnaire. Both sides will review those, before starting jury selection Monday morning.
We are told the process will take between four to six weeks.
This is a capital murder trial because Rodriguez is accused of killing two people, Summer Baldwin and her unborn child. That will affect jury selection because in a capital case, both sides get to question jurors individually.
Patrick Metze is the Director of the Texas Tech School of Law Criminal Justice Clinic. He said, "It's not a matter of gender, it's not a matter of race, it's a not a matter of occupation, it's a matter of how they feel about the death penalty."
Metze says picking a capital murder jury is no easy task.
"Not everybody has the right demeanor, right attitude, the right inter-workings to be able to decide whether someone else's life should end or not," Metze added.
To figure that out, the court starts by asking basic disqualifying questions. Those left are given a questionnaire to fill out, which in the Rosendo Rodriguez murder trial is 160 people.
"They'll ask them basic questions about their feelings, about the death penalty, about the law, about police, and about different areas they're going to deal with," Metze explained.
Metze says each potential juror is then individually questioned in the courtroom.
"They will question them individually about their feelings on the death penalty and both sides will get to talk to them and try to make a decision whether or not to accept that person as a juror or whether or not that person should be struck," Metze said.
Typically, six to eight jurors are called each day. Metze says while finding the perfect juror really depends on which side of the case you are on, the law is clear.
"The law is designed to pick people that can consider the full range of punishment, that can consider death in certain circumstances and they can consider life," Metze explained.
There is still questions if both sides will actually be able to find 12 impartial jurors.
Rodriguez's attorney did ask for a change of venue, saying he would not get a fair trial in Lubbock due to extensive media coverage. However, the judge said that was not enough reason to move. However he said if a jury cannot be seated a change of venue will be considered.
If Rodriguez's case goes to trial, it will be the first full capital murder trial in Lubbock since 2002.