THE BRONX — The mother of slain teen Lesandro “Junior” Guzman Feliz attended jury selection proceedings for the first time Monday, as the lead prosecutor and defense lawyers took pains to question potential jurors about their ability to be fair in this high-profile case.
Five alleged Trinitarios gang members are facing first-degree murder charges, for the chase and mob attack on 15-year-old “Junior” —which was captured on at least 16 different camera angles.
“If I prove the case, can you convict them?” assistant district attorney Morgan Dolan asked one panel of seven women and one man sitting in the jury box.
They were among dozens who were summoned to be questioned as possible jurors in the case.
As of Monday, six jurors have reportedly been selected.
The trial needs at least 12 on the jury to start — and the judge is expected to seek alternates to also listen to the evidence.
At one point during the questioning, the prosecutor used a street term to refer to police informants — rats.
Judge Robert Neary then noted, “If somebody testifies who’s an informant, their testimony has to be corroborated.”
The defense team is very concerned about the huge amount of pre-trial publicity in the case and wants to be sure any jury member selected can be open-minded and follow the letter of the law provided by Judge Neary.
Junior’s mother said she was bracing for a defense strategy that may taint the memory of her teen son, who was once a member of the NYPD Explorers program and talked of becoming a police detective one day.
“They’re playing dirty,” Leandra Feliz said of one statement made in court, suggesting that Junior was a member of the Sunset crew in the Trinitarios gang. “They want to dirty my son. My son was no gang member.”
Police said Junior was a tragic victim of “mistaken identity.”
Jury selection resumes Tuesday and the judge has hoped opening arguments could begin by next Monday, April 29.