Jury Selection Begins in Roberts Trial - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/06/03

Jury Selection Begins in Roberts Trial

Roberts in court today. Roberts in court today.

This morning, jury selection began at the Beaufort County Courthouse in the trial of Tyree Roberts, accused of killing two Beaufort County deputies. Prosecutors say he shot and killed LCpl. Dana Tate and Cpl. AJ Coursen in January of 2002 when the officers responded to a domestic violence call in a Burton home.

Before jury selection even began, Roberts decided to represent himself in this death penalty case. He's literally fighting for his life as he helps decide who will serve. The 400-juror panel began dwindling throughout the day as the judge read off questions. It's a process solicitor Randolph Murdaugh says should give Roberts a fair trial. "If at any point I feel that he can't [get a fair trial], I will immediately ask the judge to call it off," he said.

After nearly two years in jail, Roberts is choosing the people who will eventually decide his fate in this capital murder case.

Before the jury selection began today, Murdaugh asked the judge for Roberts to undergo a second mental evaluation before the trial started, to make sure Roberts is competent to stand trial and represent himself. Murdaugh said he was seeking "just an abundance of precaution to make sure that he is all right, even though he appears to be."

The judge did deny Murdaugh's request, saying he didn't see any reason for it as Roberts had recently undergone such an evaluation.

Jury selection is expected to continue throughout this week, with the actual trial beginning in two or three weeks.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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