Jury selection began in New London Superior Court Thursday in a wrongful death civil lawsuit that alleges city police failed to respond to an ongoing domestic dispute, leading to the shooting death of David Romero and the attempted murder of his girlfriend, Ayfer Kaya, on Sept. 22, 2003.
Kaya and Romero's surviving sister, Marta Paguada, brought the suit in 2005. Both were in court Thursday morning as lawyers hammered out last-minute details before beginning interviews of potential jurors.
The trial is expected to begin later this month or in early February before Superior Court Judge Emmet L. Cosgrove. It could last up to six weeks. Testimony from several New London police officers is expected, and three key managers who retired or left the department last week amidst a management shakeup - Deputy Chief Marshall Segar and captains William Dittman and Michael Lacey - are on the list of possible witnesses.
The jury is likely to hear a dramatic 911 recording placed by Kaya after her ex-husband stormed into her home at 86 Blackhall St. and began shooting. The ex-husband, Kurtulus Kalican, is serving a 64-year prison sentence for the crimes, having been convicted in 2006 of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm, attempted murder, first-degree assault, violation of a protective order and carrying a pistol without a permit.
In the lawsuit, plaintiff's attorney Robert I. Reardon Jr. alleges the failure of the police to enforce a protective order against Kalican and to seize his gun led to the incident. Two hours before the shooting, Kalican had called a dispatcher to complain that his wife was entertaining a male guest in violation of a court order. The dispatcher told Kalican it was a "civil matter" and suggested he call his attorney in the morning.
Jealous of his ex-wife's budding relationship with Romero, Kalican drove to New London from New Jersey and retrieved a .357 magnum that he had stored in the basement of the Blackhall Street home, which he still owned. He sneaked into the bedroom where Romero and Kaya slept, and shot Romero in the groin and chest, according to testimony at the criminal trial. Kalican shot his ex-wife twice before running out of ammunition, then beat her with the pistol, according to the testimony.
In addition to testimony from Kaya, the jury could hear from her oldest son, Aykurt Kalican, who was sleeping in the home, along with his two younger siblings, when the shooting began. The boy, 11 years old at the time, ushered the other children out of the house, according to testimony.
Kurtulus Kalican was prohibited from going to the Blackhall Street home by a criminal protective order that had been issued by a judge following an earlier domestic dispute.
The wrongful death lawsuit initially named individual police personnel as the defendants. On Thursday, the attorneys told Cosgrove they had agreed that the sole defendant in the lawsuit would be the City of New London, since the police were acting in the course of their employment with the city. The judge asked the lawyers to cull the list of 180 possible witnesses and provide him with the names of those they expect to testify. The lawyers said they are scheduled to depose Kalican today at the Macdougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield.
Representing the city are attorneys James E. Carroll and Gillian A. Woolf from the Cetrulo & Capone law firm of Boston, and attorney Thomas Gerarde from Hartford-based form Howd & Ludorf.
Attorney Joseph M. Barnes from the Reardon Law Firm will assist Reardon.