A jury was selected Wednesday in the trial of Long Beach teenager Jeremy Strohmeyer, accused of murdering a 7-year-old girl in a Nevada casino restroom.
The 12 jurors were instructed to return Tuesday morning, when attorneys will present opening statements. Jury selection began Monday and was initially expected to take a week or more.
Strohmeyer, 19, is charged in the killing of Sherrice Iverson on May 25, 1997, in a casino restroom at Primm, Nev.
Attorneys spent much of their time quizzing potential jurors on issues such as the death penalty and racism. Strohmeyer is white, the victim was black.
Prosecutors have said the killing was racially motivated, but District Judge Myron Leavitt has told attorneys not to raise the race issue in the trial itself.
The last juror seated was a young black woman, who was asked her views by defense attorney Leslie Abramson.
"I don't think that because this happened between a black and white person that this is a racial issue," the woman responded.
The woman said she felt the death penalty was "a valid option" when actions are "so malicious there is no redemption for them."
The state has said it will seek the death penalty if Strohmeyer is convicted. If he is found guilty of first-degree murder, the jury would impose the sentence from among four options: death, life with or without the possibility of parole, or 50 years in prison.
Strohmeyer watched the questioning of the final juror intently, sometimes scribbling notes on a yellow pad.
Prosecution and defense attorneys continued questioning members of the jury panel Wednesday to seat six alternates for the trial.