COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Jury selection in the aggravated murder trial of Brian Golsby is set to get underway on Friday. Golsby, 30, faces the possibility of the death penalty for the murder of former Ohio University student Reagan Tokes.
A jury pool of approximately 250 people will fill out questionnaires and face questioning from the attorneys about their attitudes regarding the death penalty. They will also be questioned about the degree to which they may have been influenced by media coverage of the case.
Tokes was kidnapped, raped and murdered on February 8, 2017 after leaving a restaurant in the Short North where she worked. Her body was located the next day at Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City.
Golsby, who had been released from prison a few months earlier, was wearing a GPS ankle bracelet but his movements were not being monitored in real time. Prosecutors say GPS data will be presented at trial to show Golsby’s movements the night of the murder.
Criminal defense attorney Mark Collins, who is not involved in this case, says Ohio’s process of qualifying jurors on the question of the death penalty before the trial even starts seem backward.
“It’s kind of different and odd,” Collins said. “You’re putting the cart before the horse. You’re asking someone to talk about something assuming that they get to that stage and that’s difficult from a defense perspective because we don’t like to talk about punishment or that second phase – we like to focus on the first phase.”
The case has already received an extraordinary amount of media attention. Defense attorneys filed a motion for a change of venue. Judge Mark Serrott ruled against the motion in September but left the door open a bit.
“This is somewhat of a unique case that has received a lot of publicity. So, I am concerned about that,” Serrott said at the time. “Believe me, if we get a lot of people who we hear that they heard things and it’s tainted their view – then I’ll move the case.”
Collins says attorneys will carefully question jurors about what they’ve seen or read.
“You don’t want someone who’s heard nothing about it and you don’t want somebody who’s obsessed by it,” Collins said. “You want someone who’s heard a little something about it but the key is whether or not their beliefs have been biased by what they’ve heard in the media and have they already formed a conclusion that may not allow them to be fair and impartial.”
The jury selection process is expected to take about a week.