Jury selection for trial of band leader Eric Grant will begin on Monday

LACONIA — Jury selection for the aggravated felonious sexual assault trial of the lead singer and namesake of the Eric Grant Band is scheduled to begin Monday morning. The trial is scheduled to being on November 11.

Grant is being tried for an alleged 2006 New Years Eve digital penetration of a girl who 10-years-old at the time. He was indicted by a Belknap County grand jury in December of 2012 and has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence.

According to paperwork filed with the court, the alleged victim reported the incident to a therapist in California in 2012, who in turn reported it to police. Locally, the case was investigated by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department and allegedly happened in Gilford.

Grant, through his attorney Emily McLaughlin, had asked the court for permission to present a video-tape of the therapist's deposition or interview by attorneys while under oath as evidence on his innocence, arguing that the expense and timing difficulties involved in the out-of-state subpoena process are prohibitive.

Assistant Belknap County Prosecutor Carley Ahern objected to the video disposition, saying she would be unable to effectively cross examine any testimony offered by the therapist and Judge James O'Neill agreed, ruling that if the defense wants her to testify she must be in the court room because the defense hasn't shown that the deposition video-tape is anything but hearsay or that it meets the exceptions under the hearsay rule.

The therapist is not one of the people Ahern plans to call to the stand, although McLaughlin argued at a hearing earlier this week that her statements to California police triggered the entire investigation.

McLaughlin has said she will show the jury evidence that the girl's statement to the California investigating officer about that night differed significantly from what she told other people.

McLaughlin said Grant has contended all along that girl exaggerated a story about him allegedly giving her a "wedgie" in a room full of people because she was mad at her mother, who was allegedly in the room but supposedly didn't nothing to stop Grant.

"That's why she hated her mother," said McLaughlin, making her argument earlier in week to allow the deposition of the therapist to be entered as a defense exhibit and played for the jury.

O'Neill also ruled that the defense may not call a Gilford Police officer to testify that Grant — who is related to him by marriage — is of good character. He agreed with Ahern who said that in order for someone to testify about a defendant's "good character" the evidence must be relevant or the prosecution must have challenged Grant's ability to be truthful, which it has not.

The jury can expect to hear from the alleged victim, her mother, and other relatives who were at the 2006 New Year's Eve party.

McLaughlin also submitted questions she would like O'Neill to ask potential jurors during Monday's "voir dire" or jury selection. He had previously denied her request to ask the questions herself.

Included in her proposed questions for the prospective jurors include whether or not he or she has ever been the victim of a sexual assault or knows someone who has, if they have young children, and whether or not he or she believes a child who has told someone about an alleged sexual assault should automatically be believe.

O'Neill has previously said he would take lists of suggested juror questions from the prosecution and the defense and take them into consideration when he conducts "voir dire."