First steps in Wasserman jury selection
Attorneys trying the case of Steve Wasserman – the South Lake Tahoe man accused of using a sword to injure his ex-girlfriend in front of their 4-year-old daughter – wrangled over jury questions for the upcoming trial.
Jury summonses for Wasserman, who has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to three felonies including attempted murder of Susan Rizk, are scheduled to go out June 27.
Defense attorney Lori London and Deputy District Attorney Tony Sears argued Friday at El Dorado County Superior Court the language and existence of several questions, including one explaining differences between a clinical and forensic psychologist and others instructing potential jurors on certain points of the law.
Various questions were either taken out or modified on the orders of Judge Jerald Lasarow.
Pools of potential jurors are expected to be given the questionnaire forms, which has more than 150 questions. They will have 24 hours to complete the paperwork and return it to the court. Both sides will have the opportunity to sift through the forms to get an idea of their ideal jurors and begin deciding who will judge the fate of Wasserman, who faces life in prison or institutionalization in a mental illness treatment facility if convicted.
Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe said he has been busy handling Sears’ workload to allow the deputy prosecutor time to focus on the Wasserman case. Sears has several big wins under his belt, including the prosecution of David Bayless, who was convicted of shooting his grandson in the back in 2001. He was also co-counsel in the prosecution of Lisa Platz, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for failing to prevent the murder of her 9-year-old daughter.
London is no stranger to the courtroom. She successfully represented Javier Acevedo Garcia in a jury trial last year when he was accused of hiding information in the murder of Joel Bravo.
Sears said investigators seized property belonging to Wasserman in a Wells Fargo safety deposit box, but it proved unnecessary to the attempted murder case. London objected to the contents being divulged in court. Wasserman agreed to have the property delivered to London when available.
Wasserman has remained in El Dorado County Jail in lieu of $10 million bail since his October arrest. Authorities believe Wasserman used a two-foot long sword to attack Rizk at her San Francisco Avenue apartment. Rizk spent two months at Washoe Medical Center recovering from her injuries and has undergone six surgeries.