Python deaths: Jury chosen in Jean-Claude Savoie's criminal negligence trial

Twelve jurors and two alternates have been selected today in the case of Jean-Claude Savoie, 39, the former owner of a New Brunswick pet store, charged in connection with the deaths of two young boys killed by a python.

Brothers Connor Barthe, 6, and Noah Barthe, 4, were killed by an escaped python

jurors were chosen in Campbellton to decide whether the owner of the snake is responsible for the boy's deaths. 1:44

Twelve jurors and two alternates have been chosen from a pool of about 400 in the case of Jean-Claude Savoie, who is charged with criminal negligence causing death.

Savoie, 39, the former owner of a Campbellton pet store, was charged after six-year-old Connor Barthe and his four-year-old brother Noah were killed by an escaped African rock python in Savoie's apartment in August 2013.

Potential jurors dealt with long lines at the Campbellton Civic Centre as jury selection began Monday morning. Two-thousand people were called for jury duty.

Many were excused early as some knew the Barthe brothers' family personally.

Justice Frederick Ferguson said the case will be heard in English, which led to more potential jurors being excused because they were not comfortable communicating in that language.

The Barthe boys were found to have been asphyxiated by the snake while at a sleepover in Savoie's home with the accused's son.

Since the deaths, Savoie has stayed out of the public eye.

He was absent throughout the preliminary inquiry that decided the matter would go to trial, appearing in court only when a decision was handed down.

Several family members of Connor and Noah attended the preliminary inquiry, and their paternal grandparents were also present at every other court date in this case.

Mother included in witness list

A jury has been selected in the criminal negligence causing death trial of Jean-Claude Savoie. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

In court Monday the Crown read a list of witnesses. Those named include the brothers' mother Mandy Trecartin as well as several police officers and three doctors.

Savoie was well known in the area before moving away after the tragedy.

Provincial officials have said Savoie's Reptile Ocean pet store and zoo was unlicensed. His apartment was located above the shop.

It is believed the python, which was 4.3 metres long and weighed about 45 kilograms, escaped its enclosure in the apartment, got into the ventilation system, then fell through the ceiling of the room in which the Barthe brothers were sleeping.

Savoie will be defended by Campbellton lawyer Leslie Matchim.

The maximum sentence for criminal negligence causing death is life imprisonment.

The trial will begin Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and is expected to last until Nov. 11.