Jury selection process underway in Magnotta trial

Potential jurors appearing before the trial judge at the Montreal courthouse to seek exemptions from the case

MONTREAL – Luka Rocco Magnotta’s lawyer says he is looking for open-minded and intelligent people to serve as jurors in his client’s first-degree murder trial.

“Will we choose men, will we choose women, who do we choose?” Leclair told a news conference a few hours after the jury selection process began Monday.

“It’s not easy.”

Leclair said he has no master plan in terms of how to find the jurors who will eventually determine Magnotta’s guilt or innocence.

“The experience we had this morning was a good one because it allowed me to see how Montrealers reacted,” he said.

“We had reactions that were pretty strong. That was instructive…What I am looking for in a juror is someone who has an open mind, is intelligent and who will listen.”

Magnotta, 32, faces five charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with the May 2012 slaying and dismemberment of Jun Lin, 33, a Chinese engineering student.

Leclair said he is not concerned about the skin colour or the ethnic background of potential jurors.

Leclair said his client was probably shocked and surprised by the scope of the proceedings on Monday morning, including the number of people present and the size of the courtroom.

Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and the four others: committing an indignity to a body; publishing obscene material; criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; and mailing obscene and indecent material.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer will preside over the trial, which is expected to last between six and eight weeks. As it stands, evidence is unlikely to be heard before Sept. 22.