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Jury selection complete in Franco trial, opening arguments tomorrow

WILLMAR -- Opening arguments will being at 8 a.m. Thursday in the trial of the Guatemalan woman accused of causing the fatal school bus crash near Cottonwood.

Jury selection, of a total of 15 jurors, was completed around 2 p.m. today in the trial of Olga Marina Franco Del Cid, 24, of Minneota, who faces a total of 24 charges stemming from the Feb. 19 crash. The Lyon County case has been moved to Willmar under a change of venue.

The jurors include five men and 10 women, who will listen to the evidence in the case. The number will be reduced to 12 members before jury deliberations begin.

The 15 selected jurors have been picked from a total of 37 potential jurors who have been questioned since Monday morning.

Franco faces four charges of criminal vehicular homicide for the Feb. 19 deaths of four Lake-view School students: Jesse Javens, 13, his brother, Hunter Javens, 9, Emilee Olson, 9 and Reed Stevens, 12. Sixteen other children, who ranged in age from 4 to 15 years old, and another driver whose vehicle was struck by the bus, were injured in the crash. Franco is accused of 17 charges of criminal vehicular injury.

According to court and state patrol documents, the bus was southbound on state Highway 23 around 3:45 p.m. Feb. 19 when it was struck by a minivan allegedly driven by Franco. The bus rolled onto its side in the roadway. The crash happened at the intersection with Lyon County Road 24 just south of Cottonwood.

Franco, who is also known as Alianiss Nunes Morales, is also charged with a gross misde-meanor for giving a false name to a peace officer and misdemeanor charges for driving without a license and for not stopping at a stop sign.