Jury selection will continue Thursday morning in Tuolumne County Superior Court for the trial of a Sonora-area doctor accused of causing and fleeing the scene of a 2016 vehicle accident on La Grange Road that killed three people and injured three others.
Dr. Danny Anderson and his Sacramento-based attorney, Tom Johnson, spent more than an hour in Judge Donald Segerstrom’s chambers with Tuolumne County District Attorney Laura Krieg and Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Novelli before the proceedings began Friday morning.
About 80 potential jurors arrived at 8:30 a.m. and waited in Segerstrom’s courtroom until the group emerged from the judge’s chambers and the proceedings got underway at about 10:30 a.m.
“We have been discussing some matters in chambers,” Segerstrom told the packed courtroom. “As I told you at the beginning, this trial is going to take some time.”
It was the third day of jury selection that began with 120 potential jurors.
Eleven of the about 80 who still remained were excused Friday after Segerstrom, Krieg and Johnson took turns asking them questions about their answers to a questionnaire that each was required to fill out.
Many of the potential jurors were asked whether media coverage they’ve seen of the case since the accident nearly two years ago would influence whether they could be fair and impartial if they were selected to serve on the jury.
All but two of the first batch of 18 potential jurors who were quizzed Friday said they had seen or heard news reports about the case, but only one who was among the first to be dismissed said she believed the coverage would make it difficult for her to be fair and impartial.
Several of the 11 who were called in the afternoon to replace those who had been dismissed said the media coverage they’ve seen could affect their judgment.
Many of the jurors raised their hands when asked if they knew any of the 60-plus potential witnesses who could be called to testify during the trial, though only a few said they believed that their relationship to the witness would make them more or less likely to believe their testimony.
One of the potential jurors who was part of the second batch questioned on Friday said he felt he would be biased because of his relationship to the family of two of people who died.
Trista Hoffman, 16, her mother, Tina Hoffman, 51, and Rheinholt Eisemann, 72, were all pronounced dead at the scene of a head-on collision Oct. 21, 2016. on La Grange Road near Bonds Flat Road.
The Hoffman’s vehicle collided head-on with the vehicle driven by Eisemann’s wife, Dorothy. Authorities say Hoffman swerved to miss a white Acura MDX that had crossed the double-yellow lines to pass the Eisemanns.
Dorothy Eisemann, 66, Dillon Hoffman, 17, and Annie Johnson, 16, all suffered major injuries in the collision.
Anderson was charged by the District Attorney’s Office in February 2017 after being identified by California Highway Patrol as the suspected driver of the Acura. His wife, Diane, is charged as an accessory.
Diane Anderson wasn’t in the courtroom Friday following a recent ruling by Segerstrom to try the pair separately.
Some of the potential jurors groaned and others breathed a sigh of relief when Segerstrom announced at about 4:30 p.m. that it had become apparent they wouldn’t be able to seat a jury that day.
Segerstrom continued the proceedings to 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Department 1. He said he was unable to continue it on Wednesday due to a scheduling conflict.
Contact Alex MacLean at email@example.com or (209) 588-4530.