Several people in a pool to provide the manpower to form a jury to decide a Topeka murder case cast doubt Monday about the veracity of testimony from witnesses.
The exchange came during jury selection for the trial of Johnathan Davion Mango, who is charged with reckless second-degree murder in the 11-year-old slaying case of a child who was 2 years old.
One man told chief deputy district attorney Dan Dunbar, who is prosecuting the case, that he would have to have all the evidence available.
What about a video showing the actual crime occurring? Dunbar countered, appearing to interest several prospective jurors.
But jurors could question a video’s authenticity, Dunbar said, because videos can be doctored, which would make them unbelievable.
The best evidence for a panel of 12 jurors would be to actually see the crime as it happened, Dunbar said, then paused before asking what that would make each juror.
A witness, several people replied.
Dunbar said what it boils down to is whether the prosecutor has given jurors enough information to prove the case “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the legal standard required to convict a defendant.
The 12 jurors and two alternate jurors who will hear the Mango trial were expected to be chosen by the end of Monday.
Opening statements by prosecution and defense attorneys will be made Tuesday, then witnesses will begin to testify.
The trial is expected to last five days, ending Nov. 13. The Shawnee County Courthouse will be closed Friday to observe the Veterans Day holiday.
Mango, 33, of Florissant, Mo., a St. Louis suburb, is charged in the blunt trauma death of Eli J. Clemens, 2, the son of Fawn Mack, whom Mango dated in 2006. The child wasn’t the son of Mango.
In February, Mango, who originally was charged with felony first-degree murder, was bound over on the second-degree murder charge. To bind him over on the first-degree murder charge, the prosecution must show that Clemens suffered the felony charge of abuse of a child, District Judge Nancy Parrish ruled at that time.
Felony first-degree murder means the slaying occurred during the commission of a felony, attempt to commit a felony, or while trying to escape from an inherently dangerous felony, the statute reads. Abuse of a child is a felony.
The judge didn’t find intentional child abuse occurred in Clemens’ death.
The prosecution had contended Clemens didn’t start suffering a series of injuries until Mango was living in the same Topeka apartment as the child and his mother. Mack and her son moved into the apartment in January 2006.
Mack and Mango had dated since April 2005 and were engaged to soon be married.
The child died of blunt force trauma to the head and abdomen, a coroner testified, saying the head injuries were fatal, and the abdominal injuries could have been fatal.
At 9:27 a.m. March 12, 2006, a caller, who was crying and screaming, contacted Topeka police to report an unknown type of trouble at 2324 S.W. Briarwood, the affidavit said.
The incident was ruled a homicide in July 2006, four months after the child’s death.