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Jury selection begins in Griswold triple murder

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Jury selection began Tuesday in the case of Sergio Correa, a Hartford man accused of murdering three members of the Lindquist family in Griswold in 2017, but no jurors were selected.

Selecting a jury is a step forward in the long-awaited trial, which has been delayed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Correa was scheduled to stand trial in March 2020, just days before jury trials were suspended statewide. Judge Hunchu Kwak said Tuesday that attorneys are scheduled to begin presenting evidence on Nov. 8 and that the trial is expected to last about six weeks.

The court summoned 35 potential jurors Tuesday and only 12 showed up to court. One was dismissed before voir dire — the process of examining prospective jurors — due to a previous felony conviction.

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense at least briefly questioned and then dismissed six prospective jurors over the course of about five hours for a variety of reasons. One man who works as a snow plow driver in the town of Groton was dismissed due to concerns about missing work in the winter and one woman was dismissed because of plans to go on her honeymoon in November.

Correa, dressed in a black suit, a purple shirt and tie and black-rimmed glasses, was brought into court Tuesday from the Department of Correction and sat with his defense lawyers, public defenders Joe Lopez and Corrie-Ann Mainville. The judge allowed Correa’s ankle shackles to be removed at his attorneys’ request after court marshals confirmed that he did not have a history of behavioral issues in the courtroom.

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen M. Carney, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas Delillo and Assistant State’s Attorney Marissa Goldberg are prosecuting the case. Carney read a seven-page list of witnesses in the case that included several state troopers, employees of the state Medical Examiner’s Officer, FBI agents, employees of the Department of Correction, Correa’s sister — who also is charged in the Lindquist murders — and his father and dozens of others.

Correa is facing numerous charges, including three counts of murder in connection to the deaths of Kenneth, Janet and Matthew Lindquist; murder with special circumstances; and arson.

Eric Lindquist, son and brother of the victims, sat in the courtroom as prospective jurors were questioned Tuesday.

The 11 prospective jurors were all wearing masks or face shields, as were judges, attorneys and all court staff for the majority of the proceedings. Plastic partitions are still in place in the courtroom, separating the jury box from the witness stand and judge’s bench.

Only three prospective jurors, all women, were questioned beyond concerns about scheduling.

Attorneys on both sides asked each of them whether they were comfortable in court considering the COVID-19 pandemic, whether they were comfortable wearing a face mask or shield for a long period of time and whether they thought their concerns would change if COVID-19 related restrictions and safety precautions changed between now and November. None of them had any pandemic-related concerns.

Attorneys for both sides also asked the jury candidates if they would be comfortable seeing graphic images, including photos of burned bodies and photos from autopsies. They also asked them if they would be comfortable hearing testimony about a dog dying and potentially seeing photographs of a dead dog.

The defense and prosecution each used one of their peremptory challenges — which are used to dismiss potential jurors — on Tuesday. The defense and prosecutors each have two extra peremptory challenges in this case, for a total of 32 on each side.

One juror also was dismissed by Judge Kwak.

Jury selection is scheduled to continue Wednesday beginning at 10 a.m. Correa’s defense attorneys and Judge Hillary B. Strackbein have said they expect the jury selection process in this case to be a lengthy one.

t.hartz@theday.com

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