Jury selection began Monday morning for the long-awaited trial of accused murderer Anthony Palma, 58. He is charged in the 1997 death of Kirsten Hatfield, 8, of Midwest City.
Day one started with 75 potential jurors in the courtroom. Before jurors filled the courtroom, Palma's defense team made a last minute request. They asked the judge to push back the trial out of concern that potential jurors have seen too much media coverage of the Midwest City murder case. The judge denied their request and moved forward with jury selection.
A group of Oklahoma County jurors will decide the fate of Palma. He lived only doors down from Hatfield. The little girl disappeared in 1997 and her body has never been found. Palma was arrested two years ago after new DNA testing connected him to evidence found at the crime scene. His blood was found on the victim's underwear detectives found in her backyard and on her window. Palma has denied knowing Hatfield and having any involvement in her disappearance.
He is charged with first degree murder. The court dropped a kidnapping charge against Palma, due to the statute of limitations.
The victim's family has been waiting 20 years for this day. They sat through the intense jury selection, along with Palma. He faced potential jurors the entire day and listened as the judge and a prosecutor questioned a group of 30 men and women. During the process, the prosecution also named 20 witnesses that may testify during the trial.
Only one juror was dismissed Monday due to the person living in a different county. Jury selection will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday.