By Morgan Harlan | Staff Writer
Approximately 200 potential jurors were summoned to the McLennan County courthouse Friday afternoon to fill out surveys to test potential bias against former Baylor football player and defendant Shawn Oakman. Oakman has been indicted on sexual assault charges and awaits trial in the county. Out of the jurors, 137 said they were available for jury duty the week of the trial and filled out the questionnaire, according to the district court clerk’s office.
19th District Court Judge Ralph Strother and attorneys for both sides will be examining the jurors’ questionnaires to determine if there is enough bias towards the defendant to warrant a change of venue for Oakman’s trial. Attorneys will begin trying to select an impartial panel by Feb. 25. Strother’s ruling on a change of venue motion.
On Feb. 1, Oakman’s attorney, Alan Bennett, filed a change of venue motion to move Oakman’s pending sexual assault trial out of McLennan County. The motion was requested because of the high amount of publicity surrounding sexual assault cases in McLennan County. Some of these past cases include the former Baylor fraternity president Jacob Anderson’s plea agreement in December 2018 and the Baylor football scandal, which broke in 2016.
“Jurors when they come in to serve they take an oath to tell the truth, but we have seen experiences, and I have in my own practice that jurors withhold information because they have an agenda,” Bennett said in a Feb. 1 Lariat article. “There are jurors out there who may find that they have an agenda to try to correct what they perceive are the wrongs from the Jacob Anderson case and take that out on somebody else.”
Oakman’s trial has been pending since he was indicted by a grand jury in July 2016 on a sexual assault charge from April 2016. Oakman has been out on bond since shortly after his arrest.