Jury selection took up the morning and early afternoon today, Tuesday, June 9, in Kosciusko County Superior Court 1, for the start of a two-day jury trial for Wesley Lee Melton Jr., 23, West Harrison, Mauds, Okla., formerly of Milford. Melton was charged in July 2013 with child molesting, a class B felony.
With a jury pool of 47, 25 jurors were dismissed after 10 rounds of calling potential jurors before the six man, six woman jury was seated with one male alternate chosen.
Court proceedings broke at 1:25 p.m. for lunch and will reconvene at 2:30 p.m. at which time preliminary jury instruction will begin followed by opening statements and presentation of evidence.
During the selection of the jury, potential jurors were asked numerous questions by the judge and both attorneys. Questions ranged from knowing any of the parties involved, including attorneys and witnesses, to understanding “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
A number of potential jurors noted having family or friends affected by a matter of molestation, some stated knowing a police officer involved or having friendships with a police officer. Several indicated medical issues or personal matters that would prevent them from serving on the jury.
Jay Rigdon, counsel for the defendant, based his questions on being falsely accused, if teenagers ever lie especially to get something he/she would want, individual handling of disputes between children.
Both attorneys, Rigdon and Katie Hampton, deputy prosecuting attorney, gave examples of happenings to determine if a juror could make a decision on what was seen or if there would be reasonable doubt.
Prior to the presence of potential jurors, Judge David Cates noted the state had filed an in limine – covering the type of questions to be covered in open court without prior approval of the court. The defense objected. A request was also filed for written instructions to the jury and to separate witnesses throughout the case.
Melton was booked on Jan. 19, 2015, in the Kosciusko County Jail where he has been held awaiting trial.
The case was filed by Milford Police after a friend of the victim’s family reported on June 7, 2013, a 13-year-old had been molested by Melton. After court documents were filed, authorities learned Melton had been arrested and extradited to Oklahoma. Those charges are unknown.