TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Jury selection for the trial of the man accused of setting a fire that killed two Toledo firefighters is expected to continue until Thursday morning.
Ray Abou Arab is accused of setting the 2014 fire that killed firefighters Stephen Machcinski and James Dickman.
By Tuesday afternoon, the defense and prosecution had interviewed more than half of 125 Lucas County residents summoned for the trial. So far, 45 have been dismissed. Most of the dismissed potential jurors were due to medical reasons or scheduling conflicts.
Most of the people interviewed for the jury have heard about the case, but both attorneys anticipated that.
Both sides want to ensure that, despite the news coverage on the case, all jurors can put aside their previous knowledge and feelings to listen to the evidence during the trial.
"Would you be able to put that information out of your mind? Take the evidence you receive here in the courtroom and the testimony of witnesses… base your decision only on that?" said Judge Stacy Cook. "Or do you believe that you will not be able to be open-minded?"
Judge Cook expects jury questioning to wrap up Wednesday with the actual selection on Thursday.
When attorneys have gone through the entire pool of potential jurors, they will take those who have not been dismissed and pick who will serve on the jury. All the people selected will be taken to the scene of the fire that day to give an idea of the layout and surroundings before the trial begins.
Afterward, attorneys will give their opening statements Thursday afternoon.
Due to the high-profile nature of the case, security at the courthouse has been tightened to keep everyone at the courthouse safe.
Planning for the trial took week for deputies. One of the biggest challenges was having to deal with unusually high number of jurors arriving at the courthouse and going through the security checkpoint at the same time.
The courthouse hired additional staff to ensure the process went not only quickly, but safely.
Security will remain tight for the entirety of the trial.