DaSilva's manslaughter trial is nearly ready to roll
Published 4:32 pm, Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Five jurors were chosen to hear evidence in the case last week. One more regular jury member, in addition to two or three alternates, were needed before testimony would begin.
Mr. DaSilva, 52, a New Milford resident, is charged in the death of Luis Encalada, an Ecuadorean immigrant whom police said Mr. DaSilva caught trespassing at his Town Hill Avenue apartment house on Nov. 6, 2009.
Police said Mr. DaSilva beat Mr. Encalada, then kicked the highly intoxicated man down the stairs, causing the severe internal injuries that later killed him.
Since jury selection began Jan. 4, close to 100 potential jurors had passed through Judge Robin Pavia's third-floor courtroom, but only a fraction of them have been subjected to individual questioning by Assistant State's Attorney Sharmese Hodge, who is prosecuting the case, and Eugene Riccio, the Bridgeport lawyer who is defending Mr. DaSilva.
A majority of the potential jurors have been excused without being interviewed because they were college students home on semester break or told the judge they would be unable to serve because of their jobs.
So far, Ms. Hodge had used five of her peremptory challenges to dismiss people she didn't want on the jury.
Several of them expressed strong views on the topic of illegal immigration, which is seen as a hot-button issue in the trial because Mr. Encalada and several of the men with whom he'd spent the night drinking in the apartment were in the country illegally.
Mr. Riccio had used six challenges, several of them on potential jurors who said they were fluent in Spanish. He said their knowledge of the language could alter their assessments of the credibility of witnesses who will testify using an interpreter.