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Homicide jury picks start

Lamont Cherry is charged in 2009 death of girlfriend’s child in W-B.

Lamont Cherry arrives at the county courthouse Monday for jury selection in his capital homicide trial.

CLARK VAN ORDEN/THE TIMES LEADER

WILKES-BARRE – Many are called, few are chosen, Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley told a panel of 150 jurors Monday afternoon.

Of those 150, one juror has been selected so far in the capital homicide trial of Lamont Cherry, charged in the May 2009 death of his girlfriend’s 1-year-old daughter.

The selected juror, a licensed practical nurse, will be one of 12 jurors and four alternates selected to hear Cherry’s case.

Prosecutors allege Cherry caused the death of Zalayia M. McCloe, whose skull was fractured on May 29, 2009, at the child’s Carlisle Street, Wilkes-Barre, home. She died two days later.

The judge said that once jury selection is completed this week, Cherry’s trial will begin Monday, Jan. 10, with opening statements from assistant district attorneys Michael Vough and Maureen Collins and Cherry’s attorneys, William Ruzzo, Michael Kostelaba and Al Flora.

On Monday morning, attorneys also discussed several pre-trial motions, including black-and-white photos to be shown to the jury.

Ruzzo argued some photos shouldn’t be shown, while Vough said they show the child’s skull fracture, evidence of the case.

“This is a dead child. We can’t change the facts of this case,” Vough said.

According to court papers, prosecutors intend to call 11 witnesses, including the little girl’s mother, Christa Smith.

Attorneys have previously said the actual trial portion of the case will take about a week.

Depending on the jury’s verdict, and if there is a first-degree murder conviction, another week may have to be set aside for jurors to decide Cherry’s sentencing: life in prison or the death penalty.

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