A jury has been seated in the trial of a man accused of stealing a vehicle and crashing it into a local brewery.
Michael Rae, 54, is charged with vehicle theft, theft, burglary, and criminal mischief in connection with incident last April at Alaskan Brewing Company in Lemon Creek.
Before the jury pool was brought into the courtroom, Rae interjected and said he wanted a stay of proceedings, a response to his own hand-written motions, and fire his appointed attorney so that he could represent himself.
Forty-seven potential jurors were questioned on Tuesday as part of voir dire, or putting them on the spot about their background and knowledge of the case. At times, proceedings seemed part stand-up comedy routine and part inquisition. Attorneys used self-deprecating humor to elicit responses on how each potential juror would consider a witness with a grudge, incomplete or irrelevant evidence, rendering a decision that’s beyond any reasonable doubt, or working with jurors with opposing viewpoints.
The jury includes four men and ten women. Two members of the jury will be selected at-random as alternates and excused just before deliberations start.
Court officers and clerks say this is the first trial conducted by Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez, the former prosecutor and long-time defense attorney who was named to the bench last year.
The trial is expected to last anywhere from three to five days.