|Mark Smith accused in the murder of|
The first day of trial for Mark Smith, accused in the February murder of Vladimir Sadin, saw the selection of a jury and technical testimony from investigators, the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, and a firearms expert.
Defense attorney Carl Bundick raised objections to the Commonwealths peremptory strikes of potential jurors because 3 of the 4 excused by the Commonwealth were African American. (Peremptory strikes are the potential jurors who are removed, after others have been removed for cause, to arrive at the final jury. The defense attorney and the Commonwealths Attorney take turns striking names from the candidate list until there are 13 left enough to field a 12-person jury with an alternate.) The Supreme Court has said that jurors cannot be excluded on the basis of race, and if a defendant believes a potential juror was removed based on race, he or she can challenge the exclusion. Deputy Commonwealths Attorney Matthew Brenner provided explanations for excusing those potential jurors, and Judge W. Revell Lewis III ruled that they are valid. The make-up of the Jury is now about evenly split between African American and Caucasian jurors.
Once the selection was finalized, both the Commonwealth and Defense offered their opening statements. Mr. Brenner told the jury he would present evidence of a seamless case, and listed the elements of the Commonwealths physical evidence and testimony. Mr. Bundick reminded the jury that opening statements are not evidence, and likened the Commonwealths case to puzzle pieces that the Commonwealth must put together. He said the Commonwealth lacks physical evidence to link Mr. Smith to the shooting, and without that the case does not hang together.
Commonwealths witnesses included investigators, who described the process of finding and securing evidence. The medical examiner that performed the autopsy described the wounds for the jury, and concluded that the cause of death was death by a gunshot wound to the abdomen. A firearm examiner also testified that casings and bullets indicate that at least 3 firearms were discharged at the scene of the shooting.
The trial continues Wednesday morning in Accomack County Circuit Court.