Jurors pared for Reno man accused of killing wife, shooting judge
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jury selection began slowly Monday in the relocated trial of a Reno man accused of killing his estranged wife and shooting the Reno judge who presided over their divorce.
Defense lawyers lost a last-ditch bid to separate the murder and attempted murder charges against Darren Roy Mack, while the proceedings that moved to Las Vegas made a fitful start.
Judge Douglas Herndon, who on Oct. 4 moved the case to Las Vegas after declaring it impossible to find an unbiased jury in Reno, postponed individual questioning of prospective jurors for several hours after what a court official characterized as a “mix-up” in scheduling.
More than three hours later, as a female air condition office manager became the first juror picked from the seven men and women questioned by attorneys, Herndon commented, “It’s deliberate and it’s slow going at times.”
Earlier, Herndon said 30 prospective jurors had been removed from a pool of about 200 Las Vegas-area residents who filled out a seven-page questionnaire last week.
Jury selection was to continue Tuesday.
Mack, 46, a wealthy Reno pawn shop owner, stood solemnly in a dark suit before prospective jurors as they filed into the Las Vegas courtroom during the afternoon. He sat through the entire proceeding.
Defense lawyers David Chesnoff and Scott Freeman said they have not decided if Mack will testify in his own defense. He has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, but has not identified which plea went with which charge. He could face life in prison if convicted.
Mack faces a murder charge in the stabbing death of his estranged 39-year-old wife, Charla, on June 12, 2006, and an attempted murder charge in the wounding of Family Court Judge Chuck Weller.
Weller was shot sniper-style from a parking structure across the street from the Reno courthouse. He was treated for a chest wound, released and stayed in hiding until Mack was arrested in Mexico.
Mack was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives for 11 days after the slaying and shooting.
Officials have said the travel and housing expenses for holding the trial in Las Vegas will likely top $100,000 for Washoe County.
Mack is being held at the Clark County jail during the trial, which is expected to take three or four weeks.