The jury is set for the Orchard Park Town Court trial of Robert Hopkins, a Buffalo Bills fan who last fall fell from the upper deck of Ralph Wilson Stadium and severely injured another fan.
Six jurors – three men and three women – were selected Wednesday, along with an alternate, following lengthy questioning from Orchard Park Town Justice Edward A. Pace, Assistant District Attorney G. Michael Drmacich and defense attorney Patrick J. Brown. Jury selection began at 9 a.m. and lasted until about 3:25 p.m., including a one-hour lunch recess.
Opening statements in the case will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Hopkins, 29, of Buffalo was charged with third-degree assault and second-degree reckless endangerment, both misdemeanors, following an incident during the Nov. 17 Bills game against the New York Jets.
Video footage that went viral showed Hopkins slid on a railing in the 300 level of the stadium and tumbled backward 20 to 25 feet into the 200 level below, landing on another fan who prosecutors said is Mark Bratcher.
Hopkins injured his shoulder, while Bratcher suffered a head and neck injury. Bratcher is expected to testify, and prosecutors said he has a pending civil lawsuit.
If convicted, Hopkins could face up to a year in jail. After the incident, he lost his job in advertising and public relations with Eric Mower + Associates and was banned from Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Out of a pool of 42 potential jurors, 16 were questioned. Several said they had bad experiences at Bills games in the past due to rowdy fan behavior, mainly drinking and foul language, and no longer attend games. Some also said they had formed opinions about the incident as a result of in-depth media coverage.
“You must disregard all of that and base your decision on what you hear in this courtroom and this courtroom alone,” Pace told the potential jurors.
The trial is expected to continue Thursday, Friday and next Tuesday.