Jury selection in Clegg trial set for Oct. 2

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Screenshot 2023 09 18 at 4.19.27 PM
Logan Clegg is led into court on Sept. 18, 2023. Image/WMUR screenshot

CONCORD, NH – The trial of a Washington state man charged with shooting a Concord couple to death as they walked on a city trail in April 2022 will begin with jury selection Oct. 2.

Attorneys for Logan Clegg and the prosecution met for a pre-trial hearing Monday in Merrimack County Superior Court to hammer out the final details for a complex trial that was originally scheduled to be in July, but postponed until October to allow further DNA testing.

Clegg, 27, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Djeswende and Stephen Reid, who were walking in the Broken Ground Trail System in northeast Concord near their Loudon Road apartment when they were shot to death April 18, 2022.

Recent evidence hearings raised the possibility the trial would be delayed a second time, but attorneys on both sides over the past few weeks said they still planned on being ready for the October trial schedule. Clegg, who was arrested Oct. 12, 2022, has asserted his right to a speedy trial.

Monday’s hearing lasted about 30 minutes and was relatively matter-of-fact after months of hearings in which prosecution and defense attorneys haggled over evidence that includes DNA, cellphone data, ballistics and eyewitness accounts. Clegg, as he has at hearings over several months, sat stock still, staring straight ahead during the proceedings.

Judge John Kissinger cautioned that the amount of media attention the case has received could make it tough to select a jury. The jury of 12, with four alternates, will be chosen from two groups of 100 potential jurors. The groups will be narrowed down by questionnaires to 24 before the attorneys engage in voir dire, the process of questioning and striking potential jurors out of the pool.

“It’s possible, giving the publicity [surrounding the case], that we may not even get to 24” potential jurors, Kissinger said.

He said he will be flexible with the amount of time attorneys took in questioning the pool.

Making sure the process works as it should “is important to the state, and important to Mr. Clegg,” he said.

The trial will be streamed on Webex, which could cause potential issues for sequestered witnesses. Such witnesses usually don’t attend trial proceedings before they testify, but the trial being available online could taint the process, defense attorney Caroline Smith noted.

“I’m not expecting any witnesses to intentionally violate the sequestration order,” Smith said, but was concerned some may accidentally view proceedings.

Kissinger said witnesses will be asked to make sure they don’t view proceedings if they are sequestered.

He also said that anyone who plans on following the trial through Webex, the court-controlled streaming platform, should be aware that internet connections can be faulty. “If someone really wants to be sure they’re observing [everything], they should be here in person,” he said.

Prosecutors have listed 89 possible witnesses in the case, and the defense has listed 63. Potential witnesses include law enforcement, forensic experts, former coworkers of Clegg, officials from places he worked or shopped, and individuals who may have encountered him or the crime scene.

Kissinger said he also will allow the jury to take notes, since the evidence is complicated. Note-taking during a trial is up to the discretion of a judge, and legal experts say the prevailing belief is that jurors can pay better attention, and rely better, on memory rather than on notes, which could be faulty.

Kissinger said he will instruct the jurors on notetaking and the notes will be collected and destroyed once a verdict is rendered.

Also Monday, Assistant Attorney General Joshua Speicher asked that Kissinger enjoin the media not to publish “graphic” photos of the homicides.

Kissinger said he’d “think about it,” but noted that the media “may have something to say” about any such restrictions. If such an order were given, media outlets would likely argue that the First Amendment, as well as common law, protects them from restrictions on what they can and can’t publish. A judge can bar the media from taking photos in a courtroom or issue gag orders barring attorneys from talking to the media, for instance, but can’t restrict the media from publishing images that it has obtained outside of the court. Traditionally, media outlets police themselves, using their judgment as journalists to determine what is appropriate or not appropriate to publish.

Logistics of a site visit by the jury during the trial also must be worked out with court officials and the Concord Police Department, Kissinger said.

The schedule calls for the attorneys to give opening statements Oct. 3, with witness testimony beginning Oct. 4. Three weeks have been blocked off for the trial.

Clegg is being represented by Smith and Mariana Dominquez. Prosecutors are Speicher, Meghan Hagaman and Ryan Olberding, of the Office of the Attorney General.


 

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About this Author

Maureen Milliken

Maureen Milliken is a contract reporter and content producer for consumer financial agencies. She has worked for northern New England publications, including the New Hampshire Union Leader, for 25 years, and most recently at Mainebiz in Portland, Maine. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.