OPELIKA, Ala. – The judge in the capital murder case of Courtney Lockhart has sent potential jurors home for the day, citing a runaway juror as the reason a jury couldn't be picked today.
The jurors are scheduled to return at 8:30 CST Friday.
Attorneys in the capital murder case of Courtney Lockhart remain in the process of selecting a jury about two hours after defense attorney Jeremy Armstrong again asked the judge for a change of venue.
Armstrong repeated his arguments this afternoon to Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker III on why the trial should be moved to another part of the state. Listing out the number of people who said they'd seen or heard something about the case in the media, he claimed that 87 percent of the jury pool knows something about the allegations.
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“This jury pool is tainted and presumed prejudiced, and I'm asking for a change of venue,” Armstrong said. “There is no way Mr. Lockhart can get a fair and impartial trial.”
Walker denied the motion.
Jury selection began Monday.
Lockhart, 26, is accused of kidnapping and shooting 18-year-old Auburn University freshman Lauren Burk, of Marietta, Ga., on March 4, 2008. Burk 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 was arrested days later. Police said he confessed after his arrest.
If convicted, Lockhart could face the death penalty.
District Attorney Nick Abbett said he has about 50 witnesses to present and that should take through Wednesday. Defense attorneys said they should finish by Nov. 19.