Aaron Laxton is covering the HIV criminalization trial of Michael Johnson in Missouri. Johnson, who was a college wrestler at the time of his arrest, faces felony charges in Missouri for allegedly not disclosing his HIV status to sexual partners. Aaron will be live tweeting from the courtroom using the hashtag #MichaelJohnson. The Counter Narrative has provided this list of ways to support Johnson during his trial. Read Part 2 of Aaron's coverage.
I am providing a summary in an effort to keep everyone in the loop. Jury selection kicked off around 9:45 a.m. on Monday, May 11. There were 51 prospects in the jury pool. Half men, half women. One African American female and the rest were white.
Michael has been charged with 2 Class A felonies, (Transmitting), four Class B felonies of Risking Exposure. Each class carry carrying a penalty of 15-30 to life and the class B of up to 15 years each.
At times the Prosecuting Attorney zeroed in on homosexuality. At one point the issue of sin and morality was raised. Throughout the selection the jury pool was polled as to whether they believed being gay was a sin, whether a person was born that way and whether it was immoral.
The pool was polled to determine whether they believe that HIV criminal laws were needed and what was unanimous, 51 hands raised.
The Prosecuting Attorney and his team of two attorneys took over 2.5 hours to questions and re-question potential jurors. Heather Donovan (MJ's Public Defender) asked a few questions in the afternoon then informed the judge that was all that she had.
In the end 4 white men, 6 white women and 1 black woman were seated as the juror which will decide Michael's fate.
On Tuesday, May 16, opening statements will start at 8:30 a.m. and the state will kick off its case.
Read Aaron's blog My HIV Journey.