Judge: jury pool is racially balanced

by Jim Martyka

A judge ruled Tuesday that the pool of possible jurors for the murder trial of Louis Cardona “Butch” Buggs adequately represents blacks and is not prejudiced, striking down a defense motion made Monday.
“The number of black jurors fits within the required standard,” said Judge H. Peter Albrecht. “It is proportional to the number of blacks in the Minneapolis area.”
Buggs is accused of killing University student Kami Talley, who was murdered last February at her Northeast Minneapolis workplace. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison without parole.
Arguments from both the defense and prosecution regarding admissible evidence began last Wednesday. Albrecht was able to make his final rulings Tuesday on motions from both sides.
Albrecht accepted the motion to allow the past history of Talley and Buggs’ relationship to be used, which the prosecution said was important to its case.
“The state is entitled to show the strange nature of their relationship,” he said. Buggs had a history of domestic abuse with Talley.
Albrecht also denied a motion to allow anonymous phone calls to Talley to be used as evidence, stating that only phone calls in which Buggs could be identified would be allowed.
Buggs allegedly made several phone calls to Talley both at her home and at her workplace.
Both the defense and the prosecution agreed they wouldn’t use videos found at Buggs’ house, such as “Natural Born Killers,” as evidence. They also agreed not to mention any form of medical counseling Buggs might have received.
The will found at Buggs’ house, however, will be allowed despite the defense’s attempt to exclude it on the grounds that it never mentions an intent to kill Talley. Prosecuting attorney Judith Hawley said this evidence is also very important.
“The will is an indication to the state of mind Buggs was in shortly before the incident,” Hawley said.
Albrecht ruled to allow autopsy photos to be used as evidence, stating that the number of photos to be allowed would be discussed later.
He turned down a motion by the prosecution to allow knowledge of a temporary restraining order Talley had sought against Buggs, because Talley never followed through with it. However, Albrecht ruled to allow fingerprint evidence, information about Buggs’ violation of probation and evidence of his fleeing to Alexandria, Va., where he was caught by FBI officials at a relative’s house, three months after the murder.
The prosecution must also give documents about witnesses to the defense, Albrecht ruled.
After the rulings, both sides started the interview process to fill the jury positions.
Both sides asked questions about the candidates’ personal feelings and knowledge of the case. They also asked specific questions about responses candidates gave on questionnaires.
Albrecht said currently 64 people make up the pool of jurors but this number will be narrowed down to 15 or 16 for this case. One juror has already been selected.
Jury selection will continue throughout the rest of this week and into next week. After the selection, both sides will make their opening arguments.