Approximately 90 Nashville residents learned today that are candidates to sit in judgment of the man on trial for one of the most notorious murders in Nashville history: the 1975 killing of 9-year-old Marcia Trimble.
Those called for possible jury duty in the trial of Jerome Barrett represented a cross-section of the city's population, including both ends of the economic spectrum.
One pool member was excused because he is currently working three part-time cleaning jobs after being laid off from his steady job in February. Another member, also excused for work reasons, was Spencer Hays, the successful entrepreneur who founded Tom James Co. and serves as executive chairman of Southwestern Co.
Several in the pool were native Nashvillians who remembered the girl's disappearance on Feb. 25, 1975, the frantic search that ensued over the next 33 days and the discovery of her body on Easter Sunday, March 30. Others were younger natives or more recent arrivals who had little or no knowledge of the case.
Prosecutors, defense attorneys and Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier quizzed all potential jurors about whether they could cope with being sequestered for the duration of the trial, what they had learned about the case from media reports and whether they felt able to put aside any prior impressions about the case as they deliberated.
"There's nothing wrong with being an informed citizen," Dozier told one candidate. "You just can't bring it into court with you."
The would-be jurors were also asked whether they knew anyone named on a witness list that was furnished to them but has not yet been made public. One woman, who works in a dentist's office, recognized Middle Tennessee U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough as a patient.
Yarbrough, along with John Hollins Sr., represented 15-year-old Jeffrey Womack after he was arrested for the Trimble murder in 1979. Charges were later dropped against the teenager, although police continued to float his name as a prime suspect for decades afterward. Hollins told NashvillePost.com last week that neither he himself nor Womack had received subpoenas to testify.
Attempts to reach Yarbrough today have been unsuccessful.
The news that he may be called to the stand follows a brief exchange between Dozier and lead defense attorney Jim McNamara during a hearing last week. The judge asked:
"Do you plan on offering proof that Jeffrey Womack committed this murder?"
McNamara's reply: "Yes, the proof goes to that."
Jury selection is set to conclude today. The trial gets underway on Wednesday.