DETROIT (WXYZ) - The final stage of jury selection in the Kwame Kilpatrick criminal trial is underway, with 18 jurors expected to be seated by the end of the day. So far, 30 jurors have been removed from the pool of 60, and another 4 have been excused for unknown reasons.
Attorneys for the defense challenged the removal of several African-Americans, arguing that they were being challenged by the government because of their race. Judge Nancy Edmunds denied each challenge, saying the government was within its rights.
Attorneys for the prosecution have insisted that they are not challenging potential jurors on the basis of race, but rather on their racial attitudes towards the criminal justice system.
One woman who the prosecution successfully challenged, for example, said that blacks are treated differently than whites for committing the same crime.
Another woman, also African-American, was challenged after prosecutors said she appeared combative during questioning. Both challenges were allowed by Judge Edmunds.
But defense lawyers didn't buy the government's explanation, and expressed frustration throughout much of the day.
Still, Judge Edmunds said she expects at least least 25% of the jury will be made up of African-Americans by the time selection is over.
Earlier today, a juror had been tossed from the case who previously said in open court that she would not be able to convict Kilpatrick if the government proved its case. She reversed her answer minutes later, and defense lawyers said she appeared confused by the initial question.
Tomorrow, lawyers for Kilpatrick and three other co-defendants will argue that their clients won't receive a fair shake in a Detroit courtroom and that the highly-anticipated trial needs to be moved to another city.
They blame the city's television stations and newspapers for saturating the region with stories about Kilpatrick's alleged and proven misdeeds which, they say, makes it impossible for their clients to receive a just outcome.
Attorney Mike Rataj, who represents Bobby Ferguson, said he'd like the trial moved to Cleveland or Memphis.
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