A media horde that rushed this mill town for the trial of confessed child-killer Susan Smith has left even faster, wilted by 100-degree heat and tedious jury selection.
More than 80 news organizations that surrounded the courthouse at the beginning had by week’s end dwindled to but three television cameras and about 20 reporters, hardly a media spectacle.
By the fourth day of jury selection, the bailiff was asleep and Smith’s ex-husband David was nodding off as lawyers sought to find a 12-member jury and six alternates.
In six days, 12 jurors were selected: five white men, four black men, two white women and a black woman. The final two panelists and two alternates were seated on Saturday and the judge decided to go forward with just two alternates instead of the six he’d said he wanted. Hearings were scheduled for Monday and opening arguments for Tuesday.
In this town of 10,000, it proved hard finding many who had no links to the defendant.
Circuit Judge William Howard was forced to dismiss 16 panelists who said they could not sentence her to death. “I feel it’s God’s decision,” one woman said. “I think it would make me the same person as the murderer.”