Jury Selection Begins in Michael Miske Jr. Trial: Challenges Arise as Potential Jurors Disqualified

HONOLULU – The jury selection process began on Monday in the trial of Michael Miske Jr., with more than half of the potential jurors being ruled out for various reasons. Attorneys for the prosecution and defense questioned 19 potential jurors individually, and by the end of the day, 11 had been struck and eight remained in consideration.

Miske, who is accused of being a racketeering boss, is facing 22 federal counts in a wide-ranging conspiracy case. He appeared in U.S. District Court alongside his two co-defendants, his half-brother John Stancil and Delia Fabro-Miske. Stancil is facing 11 counts, while Fabro-Miske is facing two counts of racketeering and two counts of bank fraud.

During the questioning, potential jurors were asked about their knowledge of the case and whether they had formed any opinions about the defendants’ guilt or innocence. Some were ruled out for having personal relationships with individuals on the witness list, while others were deemed ineligible due to prior experiences as victims or witnesses of crimes.

One potential juror mentioned witnessing his neighbor being killed by someone who was later found not guilty by reason of insanity, stating that he could not be fair in this case. Another juror was struck for not being able to presume the defendants’ innocence until proven guilty.

The selection process will continue until 44 potential jurors are chosen, from which 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected. The questioning will resume on Tuesday with 20 more potential jurors scheduled to be interviewed.

Miske, dressed in a light blue shirt, listened attentively during the proceedings, occasionally turning to make eye contact with individuals in the gallery. Stancil appeared upbeat at times, even exchanging laughter and gestures with his lawyer. Fabro-Miske remained quiet throughout the day.

Presiding Judge Derrick Watson overruled a motion to strike a potential juror who had read about the case in articles written by Ian Lind in Civil Beat. He emphasized that jurors should separate what they have previously learned from what they hear in court when making their decision.

Prosecutors asked potential jurors about their understanding of evidence and their experiences with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. They also highlighted that the body of Johnathan Fraser, the alleged kidnapping and murder victim, has not been found and asked if the absence of a body would affect their perception of a murder charge.

The jury selection process is expected to take up to two weeks. Defense attorney Michael Kennedy expressed satisfaction with the individual selection process but declined to comment further.