OPELIKA, Ala. -- More than 100 people are being considered as potential jurors for the capital murder trial of a man accused of kidnapping and killing an Auburn University student from Georgia.
The jury selection process began today in Opelika, Ala., after Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob A. Walker III denied a second request from Courtney Lockhart's attorneys to move the trial away from the university because of pretrial publicity. His previous decision not to move the trial was upheld by state appeals courts.
Lockhart is accused of killing an 18-year-old Auburn freshman, Lauren Burk, on March 4, 2008.
The Marietta, Ga., teen was found lying in the roadway of Ala. 147 between Lee Road 72 and U.S. 280 with a gunshot wound. She died at the East Alabama Medical Center and police later found her black 2001 Honda Civic burning in an Auburn parking lot. Police said Lockhart had a pistol when he forced Burk into her car, made her drive around and disrobe before shooting her.
Lockhart, of Smiths Station, Ala., was arrested days later. Police say the 26-year-old defendant confessed after his arrest.
Lockhart had filed a motion in early 2009 asking the Alabama Supreme Court to remove Walker as the judge in his case. The high court denied his motion.
Early this year, Lockhart asked Walker for a change of venue, arguing that extensive media coverage meant that he couldn’t get a fair trial in the county.
Walker denied the motion, and Lockhart appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. It, too, denied his motion.