Jury selection begins in Schuylkill homicide trial
At the close of a painstaking selection process Tuesday in Schuylkill County Court, not one juror had been chosen for the trial of Eric M. Mumaw.
Mumaw, 32, of Kline Township, is charged with shooting 27-year-old David D. Gombert of Beaver Meadows, at Mumaw’s residence on the morning of Nov. 1, 2016. According to testimony at previous hearings, hostile Facebook posts escalated a romantic rivalry between Mumaw and Gombert; the woman Gombert was dating was Mumaw’s former girlfriend.
Mumaw is charged with first- and third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, prohibited offensive weapons, possessing an instrument of crime, simple and aggravated assault, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. He has been held without bail in Schuylkill County prison.
Judge Charles Miller is presiding over the proceedings. To begin the process, 160 people were called to report to jury duty and 157 appeared. Of those, some claimed a work-related hardship.
“You should be allowed (by an employer) to come here and serve,” Miller said. “If you have a significant problem we’ll analyze it, weigh it out.”
Potential jurors who had work-related issues formed a line, and approached Miller one at a time, flanked by Assistant District Attorney Mike Stine, who is prosecuting and Wilkes-Barre attorney Andrew Katsock, who is defending. The same format was followed for a series of broad questions; such as if they knew any of the persons involved, or whether or not they would be more likely to believe testimony from law enforcement personnel or civilians.
After those questions concluded, the Commonwealth excused 50 jurors for just cause. Other jurors had been excused for various reasons during the morning, leaving a pool of from 70-75 remaining. Once a jury is empaneled, attorneys will give opening statements to begin the trial.
Jury selection continues at 9 a.m. Wednesday. As part of the selection process, to confirm if jurors knew anyone who would testify, Stine named 20 witnesses he plans to call, including a dozen Pennsylvania State Police personnel.