Muzamil Hassan the man accused of beheading his wife in February of 2009 was in court today as the judge questioned potential jurors in the case.
Hassan was in the court without any handcuffs, different than at other pre-trial hearings where he was restrained as more than 100 potential jurors packed the room. The judge began with procedural questions, asking anyone with physical or mental disabilities to stand up and state their problem. Nearly a dozen people were dismissed. The judge then went on asking about any hardships, financial or otherwise, that would keep people from serving on the jury.
This jury selection has been a long time coming. The trial has been delayed nearly two years because of Hassan's decision to change attorneys four times and his constant filing of motions.
The most recent controversy in the case was over Hassan's star witnesses and comments made by the district attorney. Hassan is using the defense of what the court calls "Battered Spouse Syndrome" claiming he was abused by his wife. His attorney told the prosecutions that they would have doctors testify supporting Hassan. When the prosecution contacted these doctors, they said they had no contact with Hassan or his lawyers. The prosecution still does not know who will take the stand.
Last week, The Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita spoke out about this situation and the fact that the trial has been long delayed. He compared the trial to the O.J. Simpson trail and the legal battle following the crash of Flight 3407.
"To put this in perspective regarding flight 3407, there have been congressional hearings and federal legislation has been passed but there hasn't bee an trial in this case," Sedita said.
Now, the Defense Attorney Jeremy Schwartz is worried that Hassan may not get a fair trial.
"Mr. Sedita doing this so close to the jury pool. If not the jury pool whom else is he talking to? He has prejudiced my client," Schwartz said.
The judge jury selection could last a week and the trial could last anywhere from two to three weeks.