Twelve Calaveras County residents have been selected to hear the trial of New York native Karl Karlsen, who pleaded guilty to filicide in 2013 and who now faces a second homicide charge in the 1991 Murphys house fire death of his then-wife, Christina Karlsen.
Following two-and-a-half days of questioning, the prosecution, led by Calaveras County District Attorney Barbara Yook, and a defense team comprised of Public Defenders Richard Esquivel and Leigh Fleming, approved seven women and five men to sit through the trial, which is expected to span three weeks.
Two men and two women were chosen to serve as alternate jurors and will also be hearing the trial in its entirety.
The challenges of selecting a jury for a highly-publicized trial in a small county were evident during the proceedings, with many potential jurors dismissed after revealing personal or working relationships with the alleged victim’s family, members of the prosecution or witnesses who are scheduled to testify.
Attorneys faced some difficulty in finding citizens who had not heard about the case, either through the media or word of mouth. Several of the selected jurors admitted that they had limited knowledge of the case through local print news, but stated that it would not impede their unbiased judgement.
One of the jurors voiced concerns about incoming weather affecting her commute from “up country.” Another potential juror, who was later dismissed, professed that he felt he was too young to pass judgement on an incident that occurred 29 years ago, before he was born.
Some jurors who were selected told the court that they wanted to serve on the case because it sounded interesting, while others stated that their motivations were purely to perform a civic duty. Some said they were willing but did not want to serve.
Starting Tuesday, the jury consisting of locals from a range of ages, both working and retired, some new to the county and some longtime natives, will hear the testimonies of nearly 50 witnesses who will be traveling from as far as New York to testify.