After a week of jury selection interrupted by a disruptive defendant who was ousted from the courtroom and then slugged his lawyer, the murder trial of two men in the 2008 shooting of Philadelphia police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski has its first two jurors.
The two male jurors - a young, unemployed man who plans to attend college and a middle-aged software engineer - were picked Friday on what turned out to be the closest thing to a routine day so far in the trial of Eric DeShann Floyd and Levon T. Warner.
Floyd, 35, was not in court; he was ensconced in a holding cell next door watching on closed-circuit television.
Floyd began the week by interrupting court, loudly lobbying Philadelphia Common Court Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes to fire his lawyers and represent himself.
On Wednesday, after Hughes said he would watch the trial from a cell if he did not stop the disruptions, Floyd twice punched lead defense attorney William L. Bowe before he was subdued.
Bowe, who was not seriously injured, was in court early Friday but gone once jury selection began.
Hughes later issued a statement confirming that Bowe had opted to consult cocounsel Earl G. Kauffman "but will not appear in court at this time."
"The administration of justice will not be interrupted nor will attempts to interrupt it be tolerated," Hughes wrote.
In Philadelphia death penalty cases, defendants typically have two lawyers: one to handle the trial's "guilt phase," and a "mitigation counsel" who prepares the case against execution if the jury convicts of first-degree murder verdict.
Kauffman, formerly Floyd's mitigation lawyer, was alone in court representing him when jury selection began anew shortly after 11 a.m.
Hughes's statement addressed the appearance that Floyd appeared to be at a disadvantage with one lawyer.
Hughes wrote that Floyd's defense team includes Jules Epstein, a veteran Center City civil rights lawyer and professor at Widener University, and forensic experts.
Friday's two jurors were selected from two panels totaling more than 240 prospective jurors - not unusual in a capital case and a high-profile prosecution involving a police officer's killing.
The process resumes Monday with a new panel of 120 prospects, Hughes said.
Hughes also had to pose another possibly disqualifying question to prospective jurors: had this week's courtroom drama biased them against Floyd and Warner?
As for the missing Floyd, Hughes told juror candidates that "Eric Floyd has chosen not to be present at trial at this time. He has an absolute constitutional right to make this choice."
Floyd, of North Philadelphia, and Warner, 41, of West Philadelphia, face the possibility of the death penalty if the jury finds them guilty of first-degree murder.
The pair are charged with taking part in a May 3, 2008 bank robbery and chase that ended in Port Richmond when Liczbinski pulled up behind the getaway car and was shot to death.
Howard Cain, 33, the alleged leader of the group who police say shot the 12-year-veteran officer, was killed by police after the three split up and he fled on foot.