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More Than 200 Jurors Called In McVay Case

March 17, 2014, 4:49 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

More Than 200 Jurors Called In McVay Case
James McVay


Jury selection is underway for the James McVay sentencing trial.

The 43-year-old faces the death penalty for murdering 75-year-old Maybelle Schein nearly three years ago.

The last time Minnehaha County selected a jury for a death penalty case was in 2007 for the Daphne Wright murder trial. In that case, it took more than three weeks to seat a jury.

Juror after juror walked into the Minnehaha County Courthouse Monday as the long process of selecting a jury begins. More than 200 potential jurors filled out preliminary questionnaire forms.

Just 15 of them will ultimately be selected to sit on the jury - three will be alternates and 12 will decide whether McVay gets life in prison or is executed for his crime.

It's now been more than two years since McVay pleaded guilty but mentally ill.  His attorney says he's been diagnosed with Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and despite challenges from his defense team, it was decided that McVay can face the death penalty under South Dakota law.

McVay stabbed Schein in her Sioux Falls home on July 2, 2011, and then stole her car. Authorities caught him in Madison, Wisconsin, where he said he was on his way to assassinate the President.

Unlike recent death penalty cases, cameras will not be allowed inside the courtroom for McVay’s proceedings and the media will not be able to record audio of the proceedings. Cameras will also not be allowed on the sixth floor where the trial is taking place because of a court order meaning reporter accounts of the proceedings are all that will be reported during this case.

Once a jury is selected, Judge Peter Lieberman has decided to split the sentencing into two parts. The jury will first decide whether McVay's crime qualifies for the death penalty under state law, and if it does, then the jury will decide if McVay should be executed.

All 12 jurors will have to agree to execute McVay for him to receive the death penalty. If just one disagrees, he'll be sentenced to life in prison.

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