LAWRENCEVILLE - Jury questioning started up again Thursday after a day-and-a-half-long break in the trial for Dacula dentist Barton Corbin, charged with murder in the shooting deaths of his wife and his girlfriend while he was in graduate school.
There was no explanation offered for why jury selection was temporarily halted earlier this week. Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter claimed it was due to the judge's scheduling conflicts.
Porter also said a new "development" related to the case had occurred Tuesday morning - a development which prompted him to interrupt jury questioning and ask the judge to be excused.
Although the pace of jury questioning has been slow, attorneys from both sides seem satisfied Thursday with the progress in finding impartial candidates from which to strike a jury.
A total of seven potential jurors were questioned. Three were asked to return for jury striking on Sept. 25, while the other four were excused from jury duty. A total of nine jurors have been qualified since jury selection began Monday.
"It is going slow, but the pace is fine," said defense attorney David Wolfe. "We're getting to speak with jurors very thoroughly."
Corbin, 42, is accused of killing his wife Jennifer Corbin, 33, on Dec. 4, 2004. She was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in their Buford home.
Corbin is also charged in Richmond County with the 1990 shooting death of Dorothy "Dolly" Hearn, his girlfriend and fellow student in dental school at Medical College of Georgia. Hearn, 27, also died of a single gunshot wound to the head. The case was initially ruled a suicide, but it was reopened after Jennifer Corbin's death.
Prosecutors argue that Corbin killed the women and then staged their deaths to look like suicides. However, Corbin has pleaded not guilty in both cases. His lawyers contend that the two women did take their own lives.
Jurors on Thursday were plied with questions about how much media coverage of the case they have been exposed to and what opinions, if any, they have formed about it. Most of the people questioned were at least vaguely familiar with the allegations against Corbin.
One of the potential jurors who was qualified, a computer systems administrator from Lawrenceville, told defense attorney David Wolfe that he would be impartial. However, the man subsequently admitted "I think it's unlikely that two women he's been involved with both committed suicide."
"It's either really bad luck, or I don't know," the juror said.
But another potential juror, a mother and substitute teacher for Greater Atlanta Christian Schools, said she would keep an open mind about the case and listen to evidence before forming an opinion. She stated that Corbin's romantic association with two women who may have committed suicide could be just a bizarre coincidence.