Marq Perez Trial Began Monday

The jury selection for Marq Perez, the man accused of burning down the Victoria Islamic Center, began today. telling us the latest from the courtroom is Newscenter 25’s David Gibson. Opening statements in the trial for Marq Perez started at 4pm after a lengthy jury selection process that whittled down the jury pool from 65 to 12.

Presiding Judge John Rainey reminded the jurors not to read about or discuss the case. The prosecution opened with the argument that Perez hated Muslims and in December 2016 he joined a militia group and started recruiting teens from his neighborhood. Then on January 15, 2017 Perez attempts to blow up his relative’s car by bundling several fireworks together. This was practice for Perez but it didn’t work because as we first reported, the makeshift bomb bounced off the car.

Prosecutors explained how Perez began to watch the Mosque and on January 22nd 2017 he broke in to look for weapons –not finding any– Perez stole a laptop and cell phones. Perez then told his teen accomplice on January 28th, hey were breaking in again and they stole a replacement laptop and on the way out–Perez set fire to the Mosque. Perez and the teen then ran off. Perez came back to take pictures of his handywork. Perez’s lawyer reserved his opening statements. The trial will resume tomorrow at 9am The Jury Selection Process We’ve followed this case since that fateful night in January of 2017, when the Victoria Islamic Center Mosque burned to the ground. Now today jury selection began for the man accused of the crime–Marq Vincent Perez. Perez was indicted back in June and faces multiple charges that include arson, damaging a religious property– which is a hate crime–and possession of an explosive device, a charge not related to the mosque fire.

The jury pool consisted of 65 potential jurors. from that 12 jurors and 2 alternates need to be selected. Interesting side note—38 of the juror candidates asked to speak with the judge privately–that process was expected to take about two hours. Because that group of 38 had to be broken up into 3 groups each person getting 5 minutes Jury selection was scheduled to wrap up at 3pm. But due to the high number of people who needed to speak with the judge—jury selection continued into the late afternoon.