Jury chosen in murder trial in Paxton
PAXTON — A jury of seven men and five women has been selected for the second-degree murder trial of Ryan A. Nibbe.
Judge Paul Lawrence of Bloomington, who is presiding over the trial, announced the 12-member jury about 12:30 p.m. The two alternates are both women.
The jury was selected from 49 potential jurors who had been randomly selected to answer questions from Lawrence, Ford County State’s Attorney Matt Fitton and Nibbe’s court-appointed attorney, David Rumley of Urbana.
The 34-year-old Nibbe sat calmly throughout the nearly three-hour questioning process. Nibbe, with numerous tattoos showing, his hair combed back and sporting a goatee, was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans with no restraints.
Before jurors took a one-hour lunch break at 12:30 p.m., Lawrence advised them that the trial would begin with opening statements after they return. Lawrence said the trial is expected to last into Thursday.
Lawrence read a list of potential witnesses who will testify, including several Gibson City police officers, Gibson Area Ambulance Service paramedics, several doctors from Carle Foundation Hospital, and Jason Battishill of Gibson City and his girlfriend.
Battishill was with Nibbe when Nibbe allegedly punched Timothy Robertson in the head outside an apartment building in Gibson City shortly after midnight on July 28, 2013. Mr. Robertson, 44, of Gibson City, later died from head trauma.
Nibbe is charged with one count of second-degree murder, a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He is also charged with two counts of felony battery.
Rumley questioned specific potential jurors about their ability to remain impartial despite knowing some of the witnesses or being familiar with the case through media reports. Rumley also asked the entire jury pool about their feelings about the use of self-defense and whether they think a person’s appearance makes him likely to be a criminal, pointing out Nibbe’s tattoos.
Besides Fitton, also representing the prosecution at the trial is Ed Parkinson of Springfield, working for the state appellate prosecutor’s office.