A judge ruled Wednesday that potential jurors in the Gregory Scott Smith murder trial must be interviewed separately to avoid being influenced by others' views on the death penalty.
Smith, 23, of Canoga Park, is accused of kidnaping and strangling Paul Bailly, 8, of Northridge and setting fire to his body. The boy was found dead in Simi Valley.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Steven Z. Perren cited a 1980 California Supreme Court decision that jurors may be questioned individually on the death penalty to keep repeated discussions with other jurors from imprinting the idea on their minds.
The rest of the jury selection in the Smith case will be carried out en masse, said Assistant Public Defender Duane A. Dammeyer. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Oct. 29 and could last three to four weeks, he said.
In addition, the state Court of Appeal refused to hear Dammeyer's appeal of a county Superior Court ruling, which held that Smith could face the death penalty if convicted.