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Day 1 of Michael Johnson Trial: Jury Selection

May 12, 2015

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.

Greetings everyone!

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.

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Related Stories

HIV Law in 30-Year Michael Johnson Conviction Is Unconstitutional and 'Grossly Disproportionate,' Advocacy Groups Tell Court
We Shall Not Be Removed: Black Gay Men Respond to the Sentencing of Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson Found Guilty of "Reckless Infection"
Day 2 of Michael Johnson Trial: Opening Statement and Initial Testimony
On Uplifting Voices, Social Justice and Listening to HIV Criminalization Accusers
Support Michael Johnson
Jury Finds Michael Johnson Guilty of HIV Transmission and Exposure
In the Face of Fear: The Criminalization of HIV Transmission
Views on the Trial and Conviction of Michael Johnson, a Black Life That Matters
Michael Johnson Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for HIV Transmission, Exposure


This article was provided by TheBody.


Reader Comments:

Comment by: Alex (Nashville, TN) Thu., May. 14, 2015 at 1:55 pm UTC
Please learn to proofread your pieces before posting them. There are several errors in this piece including the date of the opening statements in the trial.

It makes it difficult to take you as a credible source of information when you make very basic errors including not bothering to check a calendar for a correct date. Do yourself a favor and run the spelling and grammar check in your Word program before posting your articles.
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Comment by: Jmjazz (Chicago, 8) Wed., May. 13, 2015 at 12:46 am UTC
This is scary. He is being charged with several felonies and can be imprisoned up to 30 yrs. I will admit, I have had several hook ups and did not disclose and I am currently in a one yr old relationship in which I thought would not last (being that he is 13 yrs younger ) and haven't disclosed. I would want my partner to know my status but I fear his reaction. He was is still Neg and we are playing safe.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Alex (Nashville, TN) Thu., May. 14, 2015 at 1:59 pm UTC
It doesn't matter if you thought the relationship wouldn't last. Because YOU KNOW your status, it is your OBLIGATION to inform your partner(s), even a one night stand.

What you are doing is putting your partner at risk, lying to him, living a lie, and most likely breaking the LAW. Fess up, or break it off.


Comment by: James (NE Ohio) Tue., May. 12, 2015 at 9:28 pm UTC
The link "ways to support Johnson" at the beginning of the article links right back to this same page. Where is the list?
Reply to this comment
Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Alex (Nashville, TN) Thu., May. 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm UTC
The correct link was actually posted in the Day 2 article. The link is: http://www.thebody.com/content/75785/support-michael-johnson-as-his-trial-starts.html


Comment by: Danny Pottorff (Columbia, MO) Tue., May. 12, 2015 at 8:27 pm UTC
I will not dwelve on weither the man is guilty or innocent, in America we are all presumed innocent till proven otherwise! The real travisty that i see here is the legal representation, i have seen it and i have endured it... Public defenders are at best over worked, under paid, and frankly overwhelmed.. This man could possibly be facing LIFE! YES life in prison, and all because he was not able to afford and attorney in my opinion, would have been much more aggressive in the beginning. For Whom does the bell toll, It tolls for all those who have been given LEGAL REPRESENTATION, that would suite a third grade class.
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BLOG:
My HIV Journey


Aaron Laxton

Aaron Laxton

I am simply a guy who on June 6, 2011, received the news that over 33 million people have received: I am HIV positive. I decided in that split moment to record the journey that I was embarking on so that I might help others as they receive that news.

I am not a doctor and I do not endorse any agenda other than simply living a healthy life. I am an activist and advocate and simply want to make the world a better place. I hold a degree in sociology and psychology. I am a product of the Missouri Foster System and this is one of my main passions, second only to the work I do with HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention.

I embrace a sex-positive model. People are going to have sex; it is a natural part of who we are. However we need to make sure that it is safe. I can be found on weekends throughout St. Louis, Missouri, passing out condoms and safe-sex kits.

I am now an M.S.W. student at Saint Louis University's College of Public Health and Social Justice and the School of Social Work.

Whether in St. Louis, D.C. or around the nation, I always jump at the chance to help change not only policies to better serve those that need help but to also change the landscape of the society that we live in.

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