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Four jurors selected in Franco case

WILLMAR -- As of noon Monday, four jurors have been selected in the trial of Olga Marina Franco Del Cid, 24, who is accused of causing the fatal Feb. 19 Cottonwood school bus crash.

Juror questioning began around 9 a.m. before Judge David W. Peterson at the Kandiyohi County Courthouse. Lyon County Attorney Rick Maes and defense attorney Manuel Guerrero have accepted all four of the potential jurors to come before the court. So far, three women and one man have been selected.

The judge and attorneys are questioning each potential juror individually, without other potential jurors present in the courtroom. Questions by the attorneys have included whether or not the potential jurors know anyone involved in the case or in law enforcement or emergency services, whether they have formed opinions from pre-trial media publicity or have the ability to weigh the evidence presented.

Guerrero has questioned the jurors on whether or not his clients' immigration status would impact his client's guilt or innocence in the case. One of the allegations in the case is that Franco is in the country illegally and gave investigators a false name after the crash.

As each juror is accepted, Peterson has been instructing them that they will be called back to the courthouse for the actual trial, which he says will start later this week.

Franco faces four charges of criminal vehicular homicide for the Feb. 19 deaths of four Lakeview 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 misdemeanor 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.