Jury selection begins in the Claudia Hoerig trial

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Claudia Hoerig, right, speaks with public defender David Rouzzo at the start of jury selection Monday before Common Pleas Judge Andrew D. Logan. Hoerig is accused of the 2007 shooting death of her husband.

WARREN — Numerous potential jury members Monday were quizzed about their exposure to information reported by the media after it was released by prosecutors, investigators and in court filings over the past 11 years, to determine whether or not the knowledge would corrupt the potential jurors’ ability to judge Claudia Hoerig’s guilt or innocence.

Because of the widespread media coverage of the aggravated murder case, 75 potential jurors were questioned about whether their knowledge of the case would prevent them from being fair in weighing the evidence of the case. The people who knew about the case, more than 50, were separated from the potential jurors who hadn’t heard about it and questioned individually by the judge, defense attorneys and prosecutors.

Hoerig, 54, is accused of shooting her husband, U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Karl Hoerig, 43, in March 2007, at the couple’s Newton Falls home before leaving the country for her native Brazil.

A drawn-out extradition process ended Jan. 18, 2018, when Hoerig was brought back to Trumbull County and booked into the Trumbull County Jail to face trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court before Judge Andrew D. Logan.

Throughout the saga, prosecutors and investigators released information to the press periodically about Hoerig’s flight from the country, the extradition process, evidence found at the Hoerig home and in a vehicle and interviews with Hoerig.

Hoerig, appearing for the first time without prison clothes on, wore her long black and graying hair down, with bangs and had on a black and white patterned blouse with a black sweater. She took notes and seemed to pay close attention to the jury selection process.

Jurors who knew people involved in the case or felt like they made up their minds about Hoerig’s guilt or innocence were objected to.

“It is an important part of this case that you rely only on the evidence presented in this case,” Logan said.

In order to protect the rights of the defendant, “You have to set aside whatever opinions you have,” Logan said. “The only evidence you are allowed to consider is the evidence presented here at the witness stand.”

One potential juror said he’d be a good choice because, “I believe in the justice system, I really do.”

The majority of people questioned knew little about the case — most only recalling tidbits or headlines.

The jury selection process is expected to pick back up at 1 p.m. today.

One of four sections in the court room are reserved for Karl Hoerig’s family members, another for the media. The proceedings are open to the public, though people may only enter and exit before proceedings begin, during breaks and during lunch.

Before the trial began, Hoerig refused a plea deal, failed to get the trial moved out of Trumbull County and unsuccessfully asked for the case to be dismissed against her.