Jury selection to continue for E.C. man charged with manslaughter

June 02, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Jury selection in the trial of Blake Mostrong, the El Centro man charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Oct. 7 death of an Alpine girl, is expected to continue Monday.

Mostrong's attorney, Robert Espinosa, said he is hopeful the trial will get under way next week, but he said the jury selection is going slow as expected.

The difficulty, Espinosa has said, is finding prospective jurors who have the time to sit through what could be a lengthy trial.

Deputy District Attorney Wayne Robinson, assigned to prosecute the Mostrong case, was unavailable for comment on the jury selection.

The involuntary manslaughter charge was filed against Mostrong following the death of Michelle Marie Grady, 17, who was struck by a van in the early hours Oct. 7 as she stood in front of a golf cart parked on Wheeler Road in eastern Imperial County.


The golf cart had reportedly run out of gas.

The DA's office has alleged Mostrong was driving the van from a friend's nearby party when the van struck the golf cart and Michelle, who was thrown 107 feet.

Another person standing by the golf cart was injured.

Investigators have alleged Mostrong fled and did not turn himself into authorities until 4 p.m. the next day. He was given a blood/alcohol test and then was arrested.

The jury selection started last week after Superior Court Judge Matias Contreras denied a motion by Espinosa to delay the start of the trial.

Espinosa had voiced concern the DA's office had DNA evidence that he had not had access to, and he wanted a chance to review the evidence.

In response, Robinson opted to pull that evidence.

Officials with the DA's office said the evidence was not necessary to prove their case against Mostrong.

Espinosa said following Contreras' decision he first was considering filing an appeal on the delay issue. However, he said he decided his time would be better spent preparing for the trial.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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