Jury selection underway in Quiceno trial
In a small town, everybody knows everybody — or is at least acquainted with them.
That was apparent at the start of the murder trial for Ronald Quiceno, 38, Tuesday.
Jury selection started Tuesday morning at the Becker County Court house and is planned to be finished Wednesday.
Most of the people being questioned as potential jurors either knew each other or knew one of the potential witnesses in the case.
Whether it was through work, a softball team, a next door neighbor or school, many were connected — though none had close enough relationships to be excused from the panel.
Quiceno is charged with second degree murder with intention, second degree murder without intention, second degree attempted murder, second degree assault and a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, all in connection with a Jan. 26 incident surrounding a shooting at the Kountry Manor mobile home park north of Detroit Lakes.
Quiceno has pleaded not guilty.
He allegedly entered a home at the trailer court early that morning and shot Travis Buckanaga five times and Burris Guy once, following an argument that occurred during a gathering at the residence.
Buckanaga died a short time later at the Detroit Lakes hospital, while Guy was wounded in the lower neck and received treatment at the Perham hospital before being released.
On Tuesday, 50 potential jurors were called to appear in the courthouse, and District Judge Lisa Borgen and defense attorney Joseph Parise spent all day Tuesday questioning the men and women of Becker County.
Joining Parise at the defense table was attorney Simon George, and the prosecution is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Noah Cashman and Becker County Attorney Michael Fritz.
The prosecution will question the potential jurors today before a jury is selected.
Borgen said the trial should take two and a half weeks.
“Could be shorter but it won’t be longer,” she said.
Several potential jurors were excused for multiple reasons. A couple were college students who could be starting college before the trial would be over, one was a nursing mother, one was a self-employed insurance agent who would have no income for the duration of the trial, one had her granddaughter’s wedding to attend.
One woman was dismissed because her friend was murdered earlier this year in a separate incident, and she said it was difficult to put her emotions aside.
Another was released due to anxiety, another for an already planned family vacation, one cares for his autistic son and one needed to be at a special ceremony for her daughter in Iowa.
After several potential jurors were dismissed for various reasons, Borgen stressed that while no one really wants to serve on jury duty, there needs to be a real hardship to be excused because it is a civic duty.
She also said that jurors must be impartial and unbiased so a fair trial could be conducted.
“You must consider the evidence (you learn about) through the courtroom and witnesses,” she said. “It’s not what you think you might know or what you have heard. Only consider what is presented to you as jurors.
“That’s my job, to get folks who are impartial and fair.”
After the customary questions regarding acquaintances, Parise asked jurors whether — in all that they had heard or read about the case — any could recall Quiceno’s background. All responded that they couldn’t recall anything.
He also asked jurors if they drink, how they are affected by alcohol and if they have had people close to them that have had a problem with alcohol. He also asked if any of them have had anyone close to them involved with drugs.
Many answered that they drink socially and on occasion. Some have dealt with alcoholics in their family, but none have dealt with drug problems in their family or close friends.
Jury selection will continue Wednesday.
Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.