LARGO – Nearly 100 people entered the cavernous courtroom Monday and crammed into rows of wooden benches.
They were sitting in front of a bunch of attorneys – prosecutors, attorneys, a judge. Michael Drake wore a gray jacket, a blue button and a silver tie. He faces his peers, some of whom may decide whether to walk for free in a few weeks or whether he will go to prison for up to 30 years.
No doubt Drake, 49, fired a shot and killed 28-year-old Marquis MacLacton in July 2018. The question, as Pinellas-Pasco Judge Joseph Bulloun explained to future jurors, was whether he pulled the trigger to defend himself lawfully, or whether he committed a crime beyond reasonable doubt.
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Drake's murder trial began with the tedious jury selection process. Judge Bulone and Drake's attorneys and the state questioned the jurors with questions about their confidence in law enforcement and the potential difficulties that would prevent them from serving. The bulk of the process came in the afternoon when potential jurors filed one by one to talk about what they knew about the case and whether it would impede justice and impartiality.
The morning began with about 90 people ranging from those who looked 20 years old to middle-aged and elderly. The pool looked largely white with few people of color, a remarkable observation in a case that provoked racial tensions from the start. Drake is white. McGlockton was black and unarmed.
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By the end of the day, the pool was half white. The magic number is six, plus up to four alternates. Florida has only 12 member hearings in capital cases.
The court ordered 200 more to come Tuesday and Wednesday, but Bulone said he thinks they will be able to get a hearing from the group Monday through the end of Tuesday.
In the morning, emitted by future jurors, he shared his views on law enforcement. There were several people who were hit by the pool who stated that their positive or negative feelings were so strong that they could not separate them when evaluating the cop's testimony. Several jurors were excused for not being able to speak good English.
The other 20 were cut after sharing personal or professional conflicts that would prevent them from concentrating on the process, including a woman planning to visit a relative who has lung cancer, a primary school teacher, just begins his school year, and a man who moves to Tennessee to work on a hemp farm.
To a criminology student at the University of South Florida starting next week, Judge Bulone said, "What better learning opportunity than this? "
She was excused.
The pace slowed to a crawl after noon when Bulone asked the other members of the pool what they knew about the case. Only about a dozen of the 60 future jurors who raised their hands appeared.  RELATED HISTORY: Michael Drake examines how addicted jurors interpret video and defend your opinion, attorneys say
Because the jurors were named one by one, it looked like more. events: Dray he argued with McGlocton's girlfriend, McGlocton threw Drake to the ground, Drake pulled his Glock .40 and once shot MacLacton.
"What we want to do for sure," the judge said at the beginning, "is that you haven't decided after by watching the video and listening to the other testimony and evidence. "
Still, the video gave some in the pool the rare opportunity to put in Drake's place, as a woman who said she saw it on social media.
" I would just be scared in my sense, so I could see … "
She explained that she could understand how to act in self-defense in this situation. But this is not a fixed opinion, she said.
Political views, especially about self-defense and weapons, have also entered One man who seemed to be in his late teens or early 20s said he didn't know much about the case, but it is against the Second Amendment altogether.
He will do everything he can to make a fair and impartial hearing, he said, but "there will always be some unconscious bias."
The judge and the lawyers on each side struck 14 people.
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