Questions about race briefly crept into the trial of Macyo Joelle January on Friday, three days after defense attorneys successfully argued a man back onto the jury panel amid concerns he was being dismissed because he is black.
The issue first arose Tuesday, when 4th Judicial District Court Judge Deborah Grohs struck down prosecutor Jeff Lindsey's attempt to remove the panel's lone black juror during jury selection.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys can remove any number of jurors if they state their reasons. But Henson's challenge came as Lindsey tried keeping his reason secret, which he can do 12 times as long as there is no discrimination in regards to race, ethnicity or gender.
Grohs addressed the matter after opening statements Tuesday, during which time Lindsey argued that a man was an unappealing jurist because he had been to prison and had indicated having disdain for the justice system. Lindsey also argued that other people had checked "African American" on survey forms.
The issue briefly resurfaced Friday when the jury questioned a woman living near the scene of a deadly botched burglary.
Eva Heintz said she photographed a black man walking in the neighborhood four or five days before the killings - a photo some might use to suggest someone was casing the neighborhood. Near the end of her testimony, which at times focused on Heintz's tendency to photograph passersby, the jury submitted questions to the judge.
When asked whether she had also photographed white people, Heintz said yes.
Pressed to identify how many of the seven or eight photographed people were black, she responded, "four."
Her testimony ended minutes later, and the issue of race didn't return Friday.