Jury selection gets under way in Miller trialPublished 5:41pm Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The jury selection process is under way in the trial for Martell Miller, one of five Niles teens allegedly involved in a sex video extortion scandal.
Judge Scott Schofield, Berrien County Assistant Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli and defense attorney Shannon Sible spent Tuesday interviewing the potential jurors to determine if they have any knowledge of or prejudice regarding the case.
The court must select 14 jurors, two of them as alternates.
Sible issued several challenges for cause, or requesting for jurors to be dismissed, based on them having read news reports and knowing that Miller’s co-defendants have taken plea deals. The challenges were overruled by Schofield.
A few jurors were dismissed when they admitted they would be biased for different reasons.
Selection of the jury and opening statements are expected when the trial resumes Wednesday. Pierangeli said he expects co-defendants Parnell Martin, Leon Murphy and Trey Nichols to testify against Miller as a part of their plea agreements.
Miller and his co-defendants are accused of in March secretly videotaping a then 17-year-old girl having sex with one of them and threatening to post the video on Facebook unless she performed sex acts with them. In a separate incident, Miller, 18, is accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at Niles High School in February.
Miller is facing two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of extortion and one count of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree.
Martise Washington, found guilty on all seven charges against him in November, was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison Monday. The defendants who took plea deals are expected to receive significantly less time.