Nine Jurors Chosen in Mohamad Mohamud Case

October 11, 2012 Updated Oct 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM EDT

By WKBW News
By By Rachel Elzufon

...
October 11, 2012 Updated Oct 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Jury selection begins in the case of the man police say beat his stepson to death.

Now, we're getting a clearer picture of how the case will unfold.

By the end of Thursday, nine jurors had been sworn in for the trial against Ali Mohamad Mohamud.

The court needs three more people, plus two alternates.

There is a lot more people than usual going through jury selection for this case -- attorneys say that's because some of the evidence is too graphic for many to stomach.

The evidence in the second degree murder case against Ali Mohamad Mohamud is described as intense and tough to look at.

Prosecutors say Mohamad Mohamud stuffed a sock in his 10-year-old stepson's mouth and duct-taped it shut, before beating Abdifatah to death with a wooden rolling pill.

Evidence will include graphic testimony by the medical examiner, a 12-minute video of the crime scene and a statement Mohamud gave police. Authorities say he confessed to the crime.

Some potential jurors said with that evidence, they didn't think they could give Mohamud a fair trial. One juror even became emotional, saying the first time she saw a news story about Abdifatah's death, she burst into tears.

Barry Covert, a legal analyst for Eyewitness News, says "From the prosecution point of view, if the juror can't look at the photograph, then they can't look at all the evidence. From the defense point of view, a juror could look at the photograph and decide my client is guilty, even though there's no link between the picture and the client."

Judge Christopher Burns, prosecutor Thomas Finnerty and defense attorney Kevin Spitler questioned about 80 possible jurors.

One of the most critical questions: could anyone with children or grandchildren put aside feelings for kids and child abuse?

Covert explains "The jurors will be specifically asked if they can detach from the fact that he was a 10 year old victim and not base it on that."

He further says "Some jurors could look at the photographs, and because they have a history of abuse or knowing of abuse, decide the defendant is guilty regardless of what the other evidence shows."

Another question: could jurors handle the scrutiny that comes with sitting on a high-profile case?

Spitler even brought up the public outrage from the public outrage from the Corasanti case.

Jurors acquitted Doctor James Corasanti of the major counts in the hit-and-run death of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

Covert says "if they come back with a not guilty verdict, there could be a similar backlash and they could be ridiculed for coming to the wrong decision by the public."

In fact, Covert predicts this will be commonly brought up by defense attorneys in future high-profile cases.

Attorneys do not want jurors to fear reaction from the community.

Jurors chosen on Thursday were told to report back to the court Monday morning.

Judge Burns says he only expects the Mohamad Mohamud trial to last through next week.

Jury selection resumes Friday.

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