Map of Sanderholm's disappearance and crime scenes
Prosecutors have previously said they believe Sanderholm died by strangulation or blunt force trauma. Officers found her body nude, posed, and covered by brush. During Thurber's preliminary hearing in May 2007, prosecutors told a judge Sanderholm had been sexually assaulted with sticks and branches.
Justin Thurber was 23 years old when he was arrested. He is charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. Sanderholm's body was also found sexually assaulted, and prosecutors say they'll use the assaults to strengthen their murder case against Thurber.
WEEK 1 SCHEDULE
Attorneys will give their opening statements first thing Monday morning. This will likely take most of the morning before prosecutors begin calling witnesses.
Prosecutors have endorsed more than 140 witnesses to possibly take the stand, so it's a safe bet most of the first week's testimony will be against Thurber. The Sanderholm family tells Eyewitness News Jodi's older sister will be the very first witness to testify.
Defense attorneys will begin calling their witnesses when prosecutors rest their case. It's unclear just how long either side is planning to present.
EVIDENCE SUBMITTED SO FAR
As mentioned above, prosecutors alone have endorsed more than 140 witnesses to take the stand.
To this point, prosecutors have mostly stuck to circumstantial evidence in open court. They've called several witnesses to the stand who say they saw Thurber at or near the scenes where Sanderholm disappeared, where her car was found, and where her body was found. Prosecutors will try to show that evidence found at Thurber's home when he was arrested can be linked to the crime scene.
Several parts of the prosecution's case remains a secret, including DNA evidence and new witnesses. The judge overseeing the case, Judge Jim Pringle, has closed several hearings in the last few months as the trial nears to keep certain information out of media coverage.
Prosecutors have also endorsed several female witnesses who say Thurber stalked or tried to sexually assault them over the years. Prosecutors will likely use these witnesses to make jurors question his character and show a history of violence. The witnesses have been allowed for possible testimony under K.S.A. 60-455, which allows prosecutors to admit "prior bad acts" as evidence.
So far, Thurber's defense attorneys have not tipped their hand in open court as to what they're planning for a defense strategy.
Around 300-400 Cowley County residents filled out lengthy jury questionnaires, and attorneys called 20 potential jurors a day to the county courthouse for interviewing starting January 26.
After qualifying a jury pool of 42, attorneys spent Friday morning narrowing even further to the final 12. Six men and six women were selected. As of Friday morning, the four alternate jurors had not yet been chosen.
This is a moot point until a verdict is reached for the charge of capital murder.
Prosecutors have indicated they'll seek the death penalty with a conviction, and the Sanderholm family has never wavered in their desire to see a jury sentence Thurber to death.
Defense attorneys assigned to Thurber from the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit are Tim Frieden and Ron Evans.
Prosecuting attorneys are Cowley County Attorney Chris Smith and Vic Braden of the Kansas Attorney General's Office.
Last year, the Sanderholms lobbied for state lawmakers to toughen stalking laws and make it easier for law enforcement to arrest suspected stalkers.
In May 2008, the state legislature passed Jodi's Law, and it was signed by Governor Kathleen Sebelius shortly afterwards.