Hastings jury down to 5 as selection process continues

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Day four of jury selection in the Josh Hastings manslaughter re-trial started out by taking a step backward.

When court recessed Wednesday, six jurors had been officially seated. Thursday morning, one of those six asked to be released because of a family member's funeral scheduled for Friday. Judge Wendell Griffen dismissed her despite objections from the prosecution.

As court headed into the lunch recess, there were still only five jurors officially seated and around two dozen potential jurors left to fill the remaining seven seats plus alternate positions. Judge Griffen released all of them until Friday morning so legal teams could focus on a new batch of 71 potential jurors Thursday afternoon.

Even though it seems like the process took a step backwards, defense attorney Bill James said he believes the court is making progress, though he was hoping a final jury would have been in place by this point.

"We were certainly disappointed. We thought we were going to get through it and get a jury today," James said. "The court is concerned about the number of people left on the panel so we knew [bringing in more potential jurors] was a possibility. We were prepared for this panel to come in. We were hoping it wasn't going to happen, but it did."

The prosecution and defense will continue weeding through this newest batch of potential jurors Friday morning. They will then be joined at 1:00 p.m. by the five officially seated jurors and the other remaining potential jurors from the first three days of selection.

"Our plan is in place," said James. "I think the thing that concerns me the most is it's really hard on the jury. They're sitting around waiting, and it's the toughest on them. I'm glad he let them go to rest before they come in tomorrow..."

James hopes they can wrap up jury selection Friday and begin testimony by Monday.

Prosecutors are not allowed to talk about the trial until it's over.

KATV's Justin Lewis will be inside the courtroom again on Friday. Judge Griffen has banned social media inside the court itself, but Justin will continue to update his Twitter feed during recesses. You can follow him at @JustinLewisKATV to get those updates as soon as they are available.

Jury selection underway for retrial of ex-LRPD officer (Sept. 16)
Day 2 of jury selection in Josh Hastings manslaughter trial (Sept. 17)
6 jury members seated in Hastings re-trial (Sept. 18)