A homicide trial was forced to be pushed back again this week because of the lack of people available for jury selection.
The jury selection for the homicide trial against Paul Lehman was scheduled to take place Tuesday. But because the required number of jurors was not able to be met, the court has to push the case back to a later date when a new jury pool can be selected from, according to Cambria County District Attorney, Greg Neugebauer.
“As a result of the case being continued several times, people being excused form jury duty for work concerns, COVID concerns and health concerns those kinds of things and as a result of that, there were fewer jurors to begin picking from,” explained Neugebauer.
Neugebauer says jury pools for homicide cases are typically made up of 100 to 120 people. Tuesday, there were only 48 to choose from. During the jury selection process, both the prosecution and the defense have seven strikes for cause, meaning they can dismiss a juror.
“There would not have been enough jurors left to go through those 14 strikes collectively on both sides and still have enough for a jury plus two to three alternates,” he added.
Neugebauer doesn’t anticipate running into this kind of problem anytime in the near future.
“This is the first jury that I can ever remember that was not able to be picked as a result of not having enough jurors present for the final panel. I do not anticipate this happening again as a result of COVID or frankly for any other reason,” said Neugebauer. “Again, between the selection being moved multiple times, people having excuses and being relived from duty and just the number of strikes for cause within the panel we had just the perfect storm. I do not expect to see this happen again, certainly not on a regular basis,” he added.
Lehman’s homicide trial will be continued, and a new jury panel will be selected. The process will begin at a later date, which has not yet been selected by the court.