WARSAW — After two rounds in the jury selection for the trial against Kosciusko County Sheriff C. Aaron Rovenstine, seven of the 14 jurors have been seated.
Jury selection began this morning Monday, April 3, at approximately 10:15 a.m. with close to 60 prospective jurors filling the Kosciusko Circuit Courtroom. Special Judge Stephen Bowers began the selection process by reading juror instructions followed by the questioning by the special prosecution and defense counsels.
Rovenstine is charged with three counts of bribery, one count of intimidation, one count of assisting a criminal and five counts of official misconduct.
The first round resulted in six of the 12-member jury and three alternates being chosen. The second round added one more juror to the selection. The proceedings broke for lunch at 1 p.m. Continuation of the jury selection will begin at 2:15 p.m. and is expected to go until 5:30 p.m. today. Should the 12-member jury and three alternates not be selected by the end of the day, the jury selection will continue Tuesday, April 4.
Questions during voir dire by the prosecution focused on if an elected public official, police officers or a witness appearing in handcuffs should receive special treatment, if potential jurors knew any of the approximate 46 potential witnesses and any knowledge of the case. The defense focused on the terminology of beyond reasonable doubt and questions relating to forming opinions.
Several jurors noted association with Grace College and Mark Soto, another defendant in the case. One individual stated he/she had a hard time sitting in judgement of someone else for religious reasons. Many potential jurors indicated they have read or heard about the case from area media sources, but only one stated he/she had formed an opinion in the case and that opinion would not be changed.
Several jurors did note health issues, one suffering from attention deficit disorder, another with heart and diabetes issues. A third juror stated he was “really not interested in this case” and he would be “disconnected” throughout the entire process. “It does not have anything to do with my world,” the potential juror stated. Bowers assured the potential juror suffering from diabetes and a heart condition, should he/she be seated the court will accommodate his medication schedule should he be selected.
During voir dire there was at least one moment when those present in the courtroom were given a laugh. A potential juror noted he lived next door to Rovenstine approximately 20 years ago, when Rovenstine was a deputy. When asked if he had any encounters with Rovenstine, the potential juror noted “I was a teenager, he was a deputy.”
Special Prosecutor Tami Napier, chief deputy prosecutor for Marshall County and Matt Sarber, deputy prosecutor for Marshall County, handled the questioning of potential jurors for the prosecutor. James Voyles and Jennifer Lukemeyer conducted the questioning for the defense.
Indiana State Police Troopers from the Fort Wayne and Peru posts and a few from the Bremen post have been present during the jury selection. Two officers have been seated inside the courtroom and two officers outside throughout this morning’s proceedings.