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Jury selection goes smoothly, Sweeney murder trial to begin Thursday morning in Sudbury


One of the most anticipated trials in Greater Sudbury’s history got underway Tuesday morning with jury selection.

Robert Steven Wright is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 27, 1998, death of Renee Sweeney, a 23-year-old Laurentian University student who worked at a video store on Paris Street.

Wright was arrested in December 2018 in North Bay, where he was working at the time. He has been in custody ever since.

On Tuesday, Wright appeared in court with his lawyer, Michael Lacy, for what was expected to be two days of jury selection. He wore a dark burgundy dress shirt and black pants, his head shaved and his beard trimmed.

Wright entered a plea of not guilty, formally starting the jury selection process.

Dozens of potential jurors were in the courtroom and were called in groups of 10. At that point, the court was cleared of all other potential jurors and the 10 waited in the hallway to be called individually.

Each potential juror was identified by a number and their occupation. They were asked a series of questions focused on their ability to be impartial during the trial, and whether serving on the jury for the full duration of the trial would pose an undue hardship.

Superior Court Justice Robbie Gordon asked each directly whether they could be impartial during the trial, considering the extensive media coverage the case has received.

Jurors who were selected to serve faced Wright as they took an oath to carry out their duties.

By 1:30 p.m., a jury of six men and eight women had been chosen, two more than needed. Two jurors will be picked at random and dismissed before deliberations begin if no one else is excused during the trial.

Each juror was instructed to not read or research any media coverage of the case or take part in online discussions about the case or tell family or friends anything that happens during the trial.

Court heard that 40 witnesses would be called when the actual trial begins Thursday morning in Sudbury. A total of six weeks has been set aside to hear the case.

CTV News Northern Ontario will be providing daily coverage of the trial. 


The brutal stabbing death of 23-year-old Renee Sweeney rocked the City of Sudbury to its core on Jan. 27, 1998.

Police searched for her killer for two decades and finally charged Robert Steven Wright, who was 18 years old at the time of the murder. He has been held in jail since his arrest in Dec. 2018.

After several delays, the trial began Feb. 21, 2023, just after the 25th anniversary of Sweeney's death.

CTV News Digital content producer Darren MacDonald is bringing the latest from the courtroom every day and will have full coverage of the trial here. Top Stories

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