Ray Anthony Gonzales, who is representing himself in the trial, appeared in court Tuesday before Superior Court Judge Dennis Blackmon for jury questioning and selection.
In a process that took the better part of the day Tuesday, a jury of 12 and one alternate was seated around 6 p.m., with opening statements and called witnesses expected to start this morning.
According to the bill of indictment issued by the grand jury, Gonzales is alleged to have conducted various sexual acts on a minor between August 2009 and April 2011, including penetration and sodomy with a foreign object.
Throughout the proceedings, even during the sequestered, individual questioning of potential jurors, Gonzales did not ask any questions of any of the potential jurors.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Anne Allen, who is prosecuting the case for the state, asked several questions of the 45-member jury pool.
Each of the potential jurors were then brought into the courtroom, one by one, to be asked more personal questions about any sexual offense history they may have. Both attorneys were given the chance to ask each potential juror any questions.
Gonazles stated Monday that the crux of his defense relies on proving that the alleged victim in question was over the age of 16 at the time of the alleged crimes.
He had no objection Monday during pre-trial motions for a written admission of his to be submitted as evidence before the jury — in fact, he welcomed the document's entering, saying it was going to be the major part of his defense.
On Monday, Blackmon paraphrased portions of the motion made by Gonzales in April, saying, "You say something like, 'Yes, I had sex with the victim, but it was for money, a bribery sort of thing.' It doesn't matter if it was paid for or a matter of money or whatever, Georgia law doesn't allow for having sex with a minor."
Blackmon gave Gonzales a choice before the jury pool was brought in on whether he would like a public defender to sit with him during the trial, as a point of reference and advice. Gonzales said he did wish to have someone with legal training seated with him, and the public defender's office chose Shikera Turner, who Gonzales had previously fired, because of her previous knowledge of the case.
The judge also gave Gonzales a final warning on the risk of proceeding without retained legal counsel, saying Gonzales was being "loose" with the legal language.
"You have the right to have an attorney present," Blackmon said. "Someone who knows something about legal language and what questions to ask and when to object to questions asked by the state."
Gonzales confirmed that he understood the risk and wished to proceed without official counsel.
The defendant was told again the range of punishment of the charges he is facing. Blackmon said Gonzales is facing anywhere between 92 years in jail and four consecutive life sentences if convicted by a jury.
The jury was told to return to the jury room at 10 a.m. today, with opening statements expected to start immediately.