Jury selection consumed the entire first day of the Darryl Lierman trial in Antelope County District Court on Monday.
The morning started before 9 a.m. with an instructional video shown to the nearly 80 prospective jurors who reported for jury duty. The pool of jurors represented towns all across the county.
The instructional video outlined the process of jury selection, as well as their impartial duties if they were selected to serve during the trial.
Following the video, Judge Mark Johnson addressed the potential jurors and thanked them for their civic service. The judge said this is a time in which they may have "a direct impact on justice" in their community.
Next, Judge Johnson read the charges in the case: three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child, two counts of third-degree sexual assault of a child ,and three counts of child abuse. Lierman, 51, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Judge Johnson stated that "each and every person called here today will be making a sacrifice with their time." He said he anticipates that the trial will conclude on or before January 18.
The judge then asked the potential jurors to answer questions about their knowledge of the case, the defendant or attorneys involved. He also asked for anyone who felt they couldn't be impartial to raise their hands, and several hands went up. After some discussion, three people were dismissed for this reason. Two more were excused for undisclosed reasons.
The selection process began with Clerk of the District Court Judy Cole drawing 42 names out of the prospective jurors present. Those drawn were asked to come forward, state their marital status, occupation, spouse's name, and spouse's occupation. The panel was then sworn in by the clerk, stating that they would answer questions truthfully.
Six more people were dismissed when Joe Smith, representing the State of Nebraska, was allowed to voir dire the jury panel. Each time someone was excused, a new name was drawn and that person came forward. A lunch break was taken around noon and the selection resumed about 1:15 p.m. Two more were dismissed and replaced during the state's voir dire.
Defense attorney Doug Stratton was given his opportunity to voir dire next. He talked to the potential jurors about not "prejudging" his client because he wants to make sure he has a "fair and impartial jury." Five more people were dismissed and replaced during the defense's voir dire.
At the conclusion of the voir dire, 42 remained on the panel and 18 were left in the audience. Finally, the defense and prosecution took turns exercising their strikes until 12 jurors and two alternates remained. The 14 people were then sworn in and allowed to break for the evening around 5:30 p.m. The jury was not sequestered at this time. Court will reconvene tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.