Second phase of jury selection begins in Patterson case

EDINBURG — The second stage of jury selection in the Monica Melissa Patterson trial begins this morning, the final step before the high-profile case goes to trial.

The trial could start as early as next Monday, Sept. 25, said state District Judge Noe Gonzalez.

During the voir dire stage of the jury procedure today, attorneys for the state (the prosecution) and Patterson (the defense) will select at least 14 jurors from a pool of approximately 100 through a question-and-answer process to have a panel of 12 jurors and two alternates.

Both sides will have the opportunity to strike down jurors they believe cannot fairly or impartially hear the case.

Gonzalez said both sides may elect to select additional alternates given that the trial could last up to three to four weeks.

Patterson, 50, a former hospice administrator for Comfort House Inc., and co-defendant Angel Mario Garza, 39, are charged with capital murder. The state alleges they suffocated World War II veteran Martin Knell, 96, in January 2015 in order to gain access to his estate.

Knell’s wife was a patient at Comfort House.

Patterson is the daughter of former Hidalgo County commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios, who served more than 15 years in Precinct 2.