Race proves key in fifth day of Kilpatrick jury questioning

DETROIT (WXYZ) - As the jury selection process in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial stretches into its fifth day, questions over race relations have taken center stage.

So far, 35 potential jurors have been qualified to hear the case; both the defense and the Assistant U. S. Attorneys can start striking jurors once the judge qualifies 66 people.

Just after 12 o'clock, an African-American woman under questioning by Assistant US Attorney Eric Doeh was asked if she could find Kilpatrick guilty if the government proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

"I guess my answer would be no," she responded. 

Asked the same question again by John Shea, an attorney for Bernard Kilpatrick, the woman said that she could indeed return a verdict of guilty. 

Attorneys for the defense suggested that she was confused by the initial question, and she was moved on to the next round.

Also today, an African-American jury candidate told the court that he believes blacks are unfairly targeted by law enforcement agencies, citing a friend of his who he said was frequently pulled-over by police for no apparent reason. The friend was ultimately jailed.

The potential juror insisted those feelings would not interfere with his view of the prosecution's case against Kilpatrick, saying he "believes in accountability" and would not hesitate to convict any of the defendants.

That possible juror was moved on to the next round of selection, as was a white juror who said he resented affirmative action programs that give minorities preferences over others.  He said his daughter was passed up for a scholarship that ultimately went to an African-American student, which he felt was unfair. 

Defense attorneys quizzed the middle-aged man about his feelings on this issue, since they will be pointing out in court that defendant Bobby Ferguson benefited from his company's minority status to receive a benefit in the city's bidding process.  The potential juror said he could put aside his feelings about affirmative action when weighing the merits of this case.

During a break in questioning this morning, Kwame Kilpatrick was greeted by a supporter who came to wish him well in court. 

After shaking his hand and thanking him for coming, Kilpatrick smiled.

"I need you in there," he said.

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