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Hundreds of potential jurors report to SLO court on eve of murder trial

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Hundreds of potential jurors reported to the SLO County Superior Court building just as the trial of accused murderer Thomas Yanaga is scheduled to begin.

The courthouse was packed Sept. 1, as more than 271 SLO County residents reported for jury duty, several of whom had to sit on the floor due to lack of seating. Some were initially told to report to the county’s courthouse in Paso Robles, but were later told they needed to appear at the SLO courthouse instead.

About 179 of the 271 who showed up that day were called as potential jurors for Yanaga’s trial, according to SLO County’s office of court services.

Yanaga is accused of shooting and killing Marshall Chandler Savoy at Yanaga’s Paso Robles home on March 14. In March, Yanaga pleaded not guilty to the murder charge against him, as well as an enhancement for use of a firearm. Yanaga was released from the San Luis Obispo County Jail after posting a $1 million bail on April 8. Seven days later, he was arrested in Kings County on suspicion of an attempted murder, according to previous New Times reports

Yanaga’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilue, said in a March interview with the SLO Tribune that Yanaga shot Savoy in self-defense.

If found guilty, Yanaga could face life in prison.

Over the two-day period of Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, a total of 412 SLO County residents were called to report for jury duty. They made up the jury pool for four trials scheduled to begin that week, including Yanaga’s. His trial is expected to last five weeks.

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