FARMINGTON – Potential jurors were asked about their news sources Monday as attorneys winnowed a pool of 101 people to a try to reach a jury of 12 plus alternates in the murder trial of Thomas H. Mitchell Jr.

Mitchell, 52, is accused of killing Judith L. Flagg 26 years ago in her Fayette home.

The trial was moved to Franklin County after Mitchell’s attorney, James Strong, said pretrial publicity would make it too difficult to choose an impartial jury in Kennebec County.

Jurors were given a 25-question survey with one question asking whether they had “seen or heard anything about the alleged offense from the news media or from any other sources, including family and friends.”

Justice Joseph Jabar told prospective jurors that the trial could last two weeks. He read aloud the names of more than 70 potential witnesses, including police, forensic scientists and family members of Flagg, and asked whether jurors knew them and could be unbiased if they testified.

Mitchell was charged in the Flagg murder in 2006, when testing on evidence collected at the murder scene revealed his DNA under Flagg’s fingernail clippings. Flagg was found stabbed to death on Jan. 6, 1983; her 1-year-old son was unharmed.

Some 200 witnesses and suspects were interviewed shortly after the slaying. No one but Mitchell was ever charged in the case although Strong maintains there are other possible suspects.

By 11:30 a.m., 19 jurors were excused.


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