Potential jurors questioned separately as trial begins for Fargo man accused of killing 14-year-old
Public defender Eric Baumann is expected to tell jurors that Arthur Kollie lacks criminal responsibility for the alleged attack, according to court documents. The defense’s strategy has not been publicly disclosed, but Kollie has previously said in court that an alter ego named Prince sometimes takes over for him.
FARGO — Wanting a fair trial, the defense for a Fargo man accused of killing a teenage girl last year requested that potential jurors be questioned separately on what they know about the case after extensive news coverage.
Dressed in a blue-collared shirt and dark pants, 24-year-old Arthur Prince Kollie sat attentively on Tuesday, Sept. 6, in Cass County District Court as attorneys tried to determine which prospective jurors could review evidence impartially.
Tuesday marked the first day of the trial of Kollie, who is charged with murder, robbery and aggravated assault, all felonies.
Kollie faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole if convicted of killing 14-year-old Jupiter Paulsen. He's accused of stabbing the girl more than 20 times in a nearly 30-minute attack on June 4, 2021, in the parking lot of Party City in Fargo.
Jupiter died several days after the attack due to loss of oxygen to her brain, according to court documents. Kollie has been in jail since his arrest the day of the attack.
Public defender Eric Baumann is expected to tell jurors that Kollie lacks criminal responsibility for the alleged attack, according to court documents. The defense’s strategy has not been publicly disclosed, but Kollie has previously said in court that an alter ego named Prince sometimes takes over for him.
The defendant also told police he ingested meth the day before the attack and doesn’t remember the assault.
One or both of those statements could be used to argue that Kollie did not intentionally and knowingly kill Jupiter.
A jury of 14, including two alternates, must be chosen before testimony and evidence can be presented. It was unclear Tuesday how long jury questioning and selection could last.
The trial is scheduled for four days.
In a rare move, Baumann asked that potential jurors be brought in one-by-one for questioning on what they have seen in the news about the case. Media outlets have written multiple stories about the attack and court proceedings.
Almost all prospective jurors raised their hands when asked as a group if they had heard about the case and had information about the attack. The defense and prosecution had made their way through a third of the 50 prospects as of noon Tuesday.
Most said they had limited information about the case and that they could come to a verdict based only on the evidence they hear in court.
“I couldn’t judge anything on the little bit I know,” one juror said.
At least four potential jurors questioned whether they could make an impartial decision or keep information they heard in the news separate from courtroom testimony and evidence. That included a man who said he had strong feelings about the case as a father and grandfather. He said he had doubts about whether he could come to an unbiased verdict.
Another person said they are married to a journalist, and avoiding the news is impossible. A third potential juror said he initially had a one-sided opinion about the case and wasn’t sure he could presume a person was innocent until they heard all the facts of the case.
Judge John Irby reminded the prospect that anyone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty.
The three said they would try their best to be fair.
Another person said her mind is made up about the case because news articles, based on police reports, said video showed Kollie attacking the girl, and a sanitation worker allegedly caught him doing so. That person was dismissed from the jury pool.
Baumann and prosecutor Ryan Younggren declined to comment on whether they believed there were enough impartial people for the jury.
Younggren said asking potential jurors separately what they know about the case is not done in every trial, but it happens in high-profile cases like Kollie's.