Potential Trump juror hints at his infamous Central Park Five ads

A potential juror in Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial made reference to the former president’s infamous 1989 Central Park Five newspaper advertisements, in which he campaigned to bring back the death penalty despite the wrongful conviction of five teenagers.

During the second day of the juror selection process in New York – where the former president is is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in an attempt to conceal a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election – one man, a law enforcement veteran, was asked his opinion of Mr Trump.

“Hoo boy,” he said. “Going back to Central Park, I knew some of the kids … But I also understood you have a right to purchase an article and put it there.” He later called the former president “comical”. His comments appeared to be in reference to Mr Trump’s ads in the 1980s.

The man was later excused from serving on the jury.

In 1985, five teenagers – Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise – were all arrested and charged with the rape and beating of a white jogger in Central Park.

The five were convicted of the charges and served between five and 12 years in prison before prosecutors agreed to reexamine the case.

Kevin Richardson, far left, Yusef Salaam, second left, and Raymond Santana, far right in foreground, unveil the ‘The Gate of the Exonerated’ in Central Park in 2022 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DNA evidence and a confession ultimately linked a serial rapist and murderer to the attack, but he wasn’t prosecuted because too much time had passed. The convictions of the five were vacated in 2002 and the city ultimately agreed in a legal settlement to pay the exonerated men a combined $41m.

Despite the fact they would later be found to be innocent, Mr Trump – then a businessman and media personality – bought a full-page statement in The New York Daily News titled: “Bring Back the Death Penalty.”

“I want to hate these murderers and I always will,” he wrote in 1989. “I am not looking to psychoanalyse or understand them, I am looking to punish them. If the punishment is strong, the attacks on innocent people will stop.”

Mr Trump later refused to apologise for the statements, saying all five had pleaded guilty, a reference to their coerced confessions.

Last year, one of the Central Park Five, Yusef Salaam, successfully ran for a seat on the New York City Council, representing Central Harlem (Getty Images for Stonyfield)

Last year in July, one of the five – Yusef Salaam – successfully earned a seat on the New York City Council, as a Democrat representing Central Harlem.

Ahead of his victory, Mr Salaam reminded voters of Mr Trump’s prior actions, putting out his own full-page ad, headlined “Bring Back Justice & Fairness,” in response to one of the former president’s indictments.

Seven Manhattan residents – including an Irish waiter, an oncology nurse and a man who says he finds Donald Trump “fascinating” – have now been selected to serve on a jury for Mr Trump’s trial.

Jury selection will continue on Thursday.

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