- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) - The trial of an alleged gang member charged with killing six people in East Chicago man is about to begin after a prolonged jury selection process necessary because federal prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.

The Post-Tribune reports (https://trib.in/1CLXPDZ ) that jury selection for the trial of Juan “Tito” Briseno is scheduled to wrap up Monday in U.S. District Court. The process began with 250 potential jurors two weeks ago and 66 people remain in the pool. Attorneys will use their peremptory challenges Monday until they have 12 jurors and six alternates.

The process took longer than normal because each potential juror was questioned about their views on the death penalty. Federal prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty if Briseno is convicted of murder.

Briseno is one of 24 reputed members of the Almighty Imperial Gangster Nation named in a federal indictment blaming them for 13 murders and 19 attempted murders. Briseno is charged with six murders and seven attempted murders. Prosecutors say he also participated in an 11-year racketeering scheme involving drug dealing, robberies, carjackings, burglaries and other crimes.

U.S. District Judge Philip Simon said Thursday that once the jury is selected, he would give both sides about an hour to present opening statements.

Simon also ruled against a request by the defense to ban federal prosecutors from including photos of the victims during opening statements. Briseno’s attorneys, Arlington Foley, said showing photos of the victims looking their best next to autopsy photos could prejudice the jury.

“It just seems what the government is trying to do is inflame the jury right off the bat,” he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Nozick said the photos helped establish that the victims are who the government says they are and helps to identify them as members of rival gangs by showing their tattoos.

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Information from: Post-Tribune, https://posttrib.chicagotribune.com/


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