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

10/07/03

Progress Slow in Roberts Jury Selection

Roberts questioning a juror. Roberts questioning a juror.

The jury selection process is slowly moving ahead in the capitol murder case of 41-year-old Tyree Roberts, accused of killing two Beaufort County sheriff's deputies. But unlike in most cases, the defendant is the one asking the questions.

By defending himself, Roberts, like the state solicitor and the judge, has the right to question jurors one by one to determine if they're qualified. And Roberts took full advantage of that opportunity, asking them anything from their connection to law enforcement officers to their feelings on the Confederate flag and their opinions on the death penalty.

"It's moving extremely slow, but then on the other hand, the fellow has his life on the line and I reckon he's entitled to know a little something about the people that will serve on his jury," said SC solicitor Randolph Murdaugh.

Roberts faces the death sentence for killing two Beaufort County sheriff's deputies, LCpl. Dana Tate and Cpl. AJ Coursen on January 8, 2002. So the jury he helps select will ultimately determine his fate. After all the jurors are questioned individually, both the defendant and the solicitor will have the chance to strike the jury. "In a death penalty case, the defendant gets ten strikes, the state gets five," explained Murdaugh.

The first juror was on the stand today for over an hour. The way things are going, they're saying jury selection will probably take the rest of the week, then two to three weeks for the trial.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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