Australian woman Justine Damond was shot dead in 2017 by a police officer after she called 911 to report a possible assault. Picture: Supplied
Australian woman Justine Damond was shot dead in 2017 by a police officer after she called 911 to report a possible assault. Picture: Supplied

Judge’s warning to slain Aussie's jurors

THE jury who will decide on justice for Australian life coach Justine Damond has been selected in Minneapolis, with opening statements in the murder trial of killer cop Mohamed Noor to start on Tuesday morning (local time).

Judge Kathryn Quaintance finalised the 16 member jury - including four alternates - with a warning that they would need to "take care" of themselves and avoid discussing the case with anyone.

It comes as the Sydney-based family of Ms Damond arrived at Henepin County Court to discuss the case with prosecutors.

Her father John Ruszczyk did not speak to waiting media.

Justine Damond and her fiance, Don. Picture: Supplied
Justine Damond and her fiance, Don. Picture: Supplied

After six days of jury selection, a panel comprised of 12 men and four women was agreed on. They include a firefighter and civil engineer, a carpenter and a retired banker.

Among those dismissed at the request of the defence and prosecution were a social worker, two school teachers, a locksmith and a security guard.

A middle-aged woman who had expressed concerns ahead of the weekend that she would not be able to stomach graphic evidence was also selected for the jury.

After six days of selection, the jurors were given the afternoon off ahead of the start of the trial, which is expected to last three to four weeks.

"You have been selected to serve in this criminal case because the parties believe that you will be fair and impartial jurors to decide this case," Judge Quaintance said.

The July 2017 shooting of Ms Damond, 40, drew international attention to Minneapolis, sparked the sacking of the city's police chief and saw the mayor voted out.

Ms Damond, who was due to marry her American fiancee within the month, had called 911 for help after hearing what she thought was a sexual assault happening in the alley behind their home.

 

The case has made international headlines. Picture: AP
The case has made international headlines. Picture: AP

Noor and his fellow officer, Matthew Harrity, attended the call-out, and found no evidence of the suspected attack. As they were preparing to leave, they heard a noise near their police car and Noor fired his service revolver across Harrity's chest, striking Ms Damond in the abdomen.

Noor - who has never explained his actions - has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges. He and his partner had their body-worn cameras switched off, in contravention of Minneapolis Police Department rules, at the time.

Mr Ruszczyk has previously criticised Noor for his silence.

Justine Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk,attended court in the US as the man accused of killing his daughter gets set to go on trial. Picture: AP
Justine Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk,attended court in the US as the man accused of killing his daughter gets set to go on trial. Picture: AP

"This guy shot my daughter. How did he get in this situation? How did they get down the alleyway?" Mr Ruszczyk told a Minneapolis TV station in March.

"Well, we should know how they got down the alleyway because they're supposed to have their body cameras on. We would know everything they said, we would hear everything that happened, but they didn't have it on."

Of Noor's silence, he said: "It's his constitutional right … But I want to let you know he has spoken with me. He has spoken with me in his conduct that night and since. If you can ever say actions speak louder than words, I think this is the time I would say that."

This courtroom sketch depicts jury selection in the trial of Mohamed Noor, second from right. Picture: AP
This courtroom sketch depicts jury selection in the trial of Mohamed Noor, second from right. Picture: AP

Because of the enormous public attention the case has drawn, Judge Quaintance has sealed the identity of the jurors. She cautioned them yesterday to be ready for people to ask them about the trial.

"People will begin to guess at what you doing. Have your answer ready," she said.

"Take good care of yourselves. This is hard work, this is stressful."

 

A memorial service for Justine Damond in Minneapolis. The Australian was intending to settle permanently in the city. Picture: AP
A memorial service for Justine Damond in Minneapolis. The Australian was intending to settle permanently in the city. Picture: AP


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