Jury selection begins for Chuluota triple murder suspect

Process could last up to a week

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Jury selection began Monday morning in the high-profile murder trial of a man accused of killing his mother, father and brother.

Lawyers on both sides will try to find and seat a fair and impartial 12-person jury for suspect Grant Amato.

Close to three dozen jurors said they had heard or knew about the case. One juror was released after informing the court of a medical condition. 

A handful of other jurors were released because of their current thoughts and views of Amato and the case and could not put that aside and make a decision based on the evidence. 

Prosecutors say Amato, 29, killed his parents and brother inside their Chuluota home in January. They say it happened after he wired $200,000 of his family's money to an overseas cam-girl he met online.  

Amato maintains that he's innocent. 

News 6 is getting a better idea from court records of what evidence lawyers could use once testimony in the trial begins.

Body camera video shows Amato crawling out of his hotel room when deputies were searching for him. 

Documents also list potential witnesses who could testify and grades Amato made while he was in school. Lawyers may also refer to an apology letter Amato sent as proof in their case.

Last month, the defense pushed for Amato to undergo a brain scan before the trial.

"We're trying to show that he's normal, therefore he would have never committed this crime," deputy chief public defender Jeff Dowdy said. 

News 6 has learned prosecutors can't bring up Amato's jail email password during the trial. A judge said it's irrelevant.

The password he used is a Japanese word that invites humans to die. Amato said he chose the password only because he likes Japanese culture.

"I didn't know the actual definition until it was presented to me in this case, but I knew what the character was in the anime," Amato said at a hearing last month.

Jury selection could last up to a week, followed by opening statements. News 6 will keep you posted when a jury is seated and the trial begins.
 

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