Mark Norwood sat in the 390th District Court Friday no longer wearing a jail uniform, but a dress shirt. Almost 100 people were called as potential jurors. The process to find the 12 people who will sit in judgment took all day although defense attorney Brad Urrutia said the high profile nature of the case was not causing a problem.
"I was actually a little surprised that there were fewer people who had heard and made up their mind, you're going to have a few, there is no question about it."
Norwood is accused of killing Debra Baker in 1988. He was indicted after a hair from the crime scene was allegedly linked to him. Norwood lived near Baker's home but when he was formally charged he denied any involvement.
"They are not going to have any eye witnesses, or anything to identify him connecting him to the crime, in that respect and just because you're in town, that you've committed a murder,” said Urrutia.
It’s unclear if Norwood will speak in his own defense. He did briefly testify last week during a pre-trial hearing. Defense attorneys put Norwood in the witness stand in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent saliva & hair samples he provided to investigators from being used in the upcoming trial.
Before the DNA evidence broke open this case, the Baker murder had been one of APD’s long unsolved cold cases. Bringing the case to trial has been a long journey for Baker's family.
"He looks a little beaten down, as I would hope he would be after a year, almost a year in prison,” said Cailtin Baker after an earlier Pre-Trial hearing.
That statement also came shortly after Norwood was convicted for the 1986 murder of Christine Morton. The highly technical DNA evidence heard during that trail in 2013, is expected to be very similar to what Travis County prosecutors will introduce - and what defense attorneys will try to attack
"Most people are not scientists; most people are not Doctors ... don’t have a PhD in Chemistry, or forensics, so it’s going to have to take a lot of teaching, on the part of the lawyers, state and defense."
The death penalty will not be an option for the jury if Norwood is convicted. Testimony could last more than two weeks. The trial will feature live video feed testimony from a DNA expert who cannot travel to Austin. She was recently involved in a major car crash and just got out of the hospital.