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Eight jurors seated for Adams trial

Eight jurors picked; four more, two alternates today

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 1:26 p.m. CDT
Byron Adams

DIXON – They’re more than halfway there.

After a full day Monday, eight jurors – four men and four women – were chosen to hear the case of Byron Adams, the Chicago man charged with killing a Dixon woman in September 2009. They include a retired steelworker and a hardware store employee.

Four more jurors and two alternates will be picked today, then opening arguments will begin Wednesday morning. The trial could last 10 days, Lee County Associate Judge Charles Beckman said.

Witnesses slated to testify for the prosecution include several Dixon Police Department officers, a forensic scientist, and the victim’s husband, Ryan Atherton. 

Adams, 54, of Chicago, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the death of Margaret Atherton, 35, killed in her Dixon home on Sept. 11, 2009. When her body was found in a bedroom, a sock was in her mouth and a pillowcase was over her head, police said.

Adams was arrested 2 days later in Chicago.

Monday, 28 Lee County residents were questioned by Beckman, by Lee County Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Buh, and by Adams’ appointed attorney, David Mandrgoc.

The potential jurors were asked whether they had read news accounts about the case, whether they already formed an opinion as to Adams’ guilt or innocence, and whether they could decide the case based only on evidence presented in court.

Adams, in a dark suit and a red tie, occasionally whispered with Mandrgoc.

Each side gets seven peremptory challenges to use to dismiss a potential juror without giving a reason. The defense used six Monday, the prosecution used two.

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