GOSHEN — The first day of a joint trial for three teenagers charged with felony murder started and ended with jury selection Monday, Aug. 19.
Blake Layman, 17; Levi Sparks, 18; and Anthony Sharp, 19, face up to 65 years in prison if convicted.
The three teens were part of a group of five people that allegedly attempted to break into a residence at 1919 Frances Ave. on Oct. 3, 2012. The homeowner, Rodney Scott, was home at the time, and fired shots toward the intruders, hitting Layman and Danzele Johnson, 21.
Layman was taken to the hospital and later arrested. Johnson died at the scene.
Under Indiana law, a person committing a felony can be charged with felony murder if another person dies during the commission of the crime.
Jose Quiroz, the fifth member of the group that attempted to burglarize the residence, pleaded guilty to felony murder in November 2012.
Jury selection began Monday after 8:30 a.m. at Elkhart’s Circuit Court, after the judge and attorneys made final adjustments. However, by 6 p.m. only three jurors had been selected of the 12 needed for a murder trial.
The court took a break shortly before 6 p.m. and Judge Terry Shewmaker instructed the court, the selected jurors and the potential jurors to be back by 7 p.m. to resume jury selection. The judge said before taking the break that it was the court’s intention to finish selecting all the jurors for the case by Monday evening.
Jurors disqualified in the first round Monday afternoon included a woman who concerned the prosecution with her being easily swayed in one direction or another. Another jury candidate felt very opinionated against the felony murder law in Indiana.
Jurors were asked if they had any problem with the concept of the felony murder law, the use of guns as defense and accessory liability — a person who aids, induces or causes another person to commit a felony.
The trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 10 a.m. in Circuit Court.