At least nine out of 22 prospective jurors were dismissed today in the first day of proceedings in the trial of three former Shenandoah police officers charged with obstructing justice in the investigation of the fatal beating of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala.
Originally, there were 75 people in the pool of possible members of the jury: 39 men and 36 women. Only three, two women and a man, are black without any other person seeming to be a minority.
Matthew R. Nestor, William Moyer and Jason Hayes, who were chief, lieutenant and officer, respectively, face federal charges for allegedly obstructing the investigation of the July 12, 2008, beating of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala.
Moyer has also been charged with witness and evidence tampering, and with lying to the FBI.
Only two rooms at the Max Rosenn US Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre are being used: one to keep the prospective jurors isolated and the other where defenders, prosecutors and the judge conduct the individual questioning known as voir dire, allowing journalists to witness the process.
Nestor, Moyer and Hayes sat next to their attorneys seemingly calm and even joking and laughing at points.
During the questioning, both prosecutors and defenders said that James P. Goodman and Benjamin Lawson will be witnesses in this trial.
Goodman is the Schuykill County District attorney and he was in charge of the failed prosecution of Derrick M. Donchak and Brandon J. Piekarski in 2008.
Benjamin Lawson has been a key witness during the entire process. He was one of the teenagers involved in the beating even though he did not assault the victim, and his testimony has shed light into what happened that night.
Defense attorneys also said that William Moyer is now engaged with Tammy Piekarski, mother of Brandon Piekarski.
Him and Donchak were convicted back in October and their sentencing will take place on Jan. 24 at this same US Courthouse.
Jury selection will continue tomorrow starting at 9 a.m.