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Brittany Lawonn, Published October 25 2007

40 jurors reach second phase in Gibbs' murder trial

BISMARCK, N.D. – The number of prospective jurors for the final phase of jury selection in Moe Gibbs murder trial has reached 40 today.

On Wednesday, defense attorneys unsuccessfully tried to suppress evidence regarding scratches on Gibbs’ hands, which prosecutors contend came from a struggle with Mindy Morgenstern before her death.

During a break in jury selection for Gibbs’ second murder trial, defense attorney Dennis Fisher argued an investigator failed to specify on a search warrant that doctors would be examining Gibbs for scratches.

Two doctors testified during Gibbs’ first murder trial, which ended in July with a deadlocked jury, that a fingernail could have caused the scratches. The doctors also estimated the scratches had occurred around the time of Morgenstern’s death on Sept. 13, 2006.

Southeast Judicial District Judge John Paulson denied the defense motion, upholding the prosecution’s argument that the doctors’ examination was covered under the warrant.

The court hopes to have 40 to 45 prospective jurors move onto the second stage from the roughly 120 who received questionnaires about the case. The number will then be cut to 14, including two alternates, on Friday.

Gibbs, 35, faces a Class AA felony murder charge for Morgenstern’s death. A jury in Minot deadlocked 6-6 over whether the former Barnes County jailer strangled and cut the throat of the 22-year-old New Salem, N.D., native in her Valley City, N.D., apartment.

Read more online and Friday's Forum about the case.

40 jurors reach second phase in Gibbs' murder trial Brittany Lawonn 20071025