Questioning of jurors begins in Burton trial

Jury selection began Wednesday in the trial of alleged rapist Antonio Burton, as attorneys questioned potential jurors in Hennepin County District Court.
Of a pool of 30 possible candidates to sit on the panel, 24 were present. Fourteen were women. And with the exception of one black and one Hispanic male, all are white.
Lawyers selected three jurors Wednesday: two white females and one white male.
Burton, who is black, is charged with 11 counts of aiding and abetting criminal sexual conduct, robbery and burglary from an Oct. 8, 1996 off-campus break-in. Two female University students were raped, and a car, some jewelry and a television were stolen in the incident.
During the jury interviews, defense attorney Joseph Margulies posed a hypothetical race-reversal situation to the panel, in which the members of the jury and the court would all be black, and Burton would be the only white person present.
Prosecuting attorney Steve Redding questioned potential jurors’ assessment of the credibility of police testimony. He also drilled the candidates on their ability to closely follow the judge’s instructions.
Margulies and Redding also informed potential jurors that Burton is being charged in conjunction with three other individuals.
They include Puiassance Andersen, his brother Giezwa Andersen and Victor Porter. All three have all either stood trial or pleaded guilty to charges.
Jury selection will continue today. Opening statements could be heard as early as Friday.

— Josh L. Dickey