Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

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Jury selection begins in Floyd murder case

Jury selection in the Zane Floyd capital murder trial began this morning with 30 of the 120 potential jurors being dismissed even before they entered the courtroom.

District Attorney Stewart Bell told District Judge Jeffrey Sobel that he and defense attorneys Doug Hedger and Curtis Brown agreed to dismiss the 30 based on their answers to a jury questionnaire.

Many of them had already formed an opinion on the guilt or innocence of Floyd and what sentence he should get if convicted, Bell said.

Floyd is accused of walking into a supermarket last June and shooting four people to death.

After the 30 potential jurors were dismissed, 90 others were questioned on such matters as their opinion on the death penalty and their ability to fairly consider each witness's testimony despite their backgrounds and job descriptions.

Floyd's trial will be televised from beginning to end, but Las Vegas ONE viewers may not get to see all of the witnesses.

About a half-dozen witnesses have told prosecutors and defense attorneys that while they don't object to their testimony being broadcast, they don't want to appear on television.

On Monday Sobel said he will decide on a case-by-case basis which, if any, of the objecting witnesses can avoid the camera.

Las Vegas ONE, Cox cable channels 1 and 39, is scheduled to carry opening statements and testimony in the trial beginning today and will provide live coverage throughout the trial.

The judge said he will make his decision after reading affidavits from the witnesses laying out their objections. However, he said he is already inclined to grant at least one witness her request -- the woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Floyd an hour before the shootings.

According to police, the 24-year-old ex-Marine walked into a supermarket at Sahara Avenue and Valley View Boulevard June 3, 1999, carrying a .12-gauge, pistol-grip shotgun.

Police say that once inside, the camouflage-clad Floyd methodically hunted down and shot those he encountered. He shot Thomas Darnell, 40, in the back as Darnell was pushing grocery carts. Then he shot frozen food manager Chuck Leos, 41, twice. Dennis Sargent, 31, the supervisor on duty, was shot once in the chest.

Floyd missed when he fired at cleanup crew member Lepe Fabian, but he hit Zack Emenegger two out of the three times he shot at him while chasing him through the produce section, police say. Emenegger was the only person shot who survived.

Lucy Tarantino, 40, was Floyd's last victim, police say. She was shot once in the head at close range as she begged for her life.

Authorities also allege that just an hour before the shootings started, Floyd repeatedly raped a 20-year-old outcall service girl he had hired to come to his house. As he was leaving, Floyd allegedly told her he had 19 bullets, and he was going to kill the first 19 people he encountered.

Floyd also reportedly told police that he had always wondered what it would be like to kill someone.

Floyd faces four murder counts, one attempted murder count, one count of first-degree kidnapping, four sexual assault charges and one count of burglary.

If Floyd is convicted and if Brown and Hedger are unable to convince jurors that there are mitigating circumstances in the case, Floyd could face the death penalty.

Defense attorneys say Floyd's mental impairment is just one of those circumstances.

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