Attorneys to review 62 potential jurors for capital murder case
by Rachael Brown
Jun 20, 2013 | 5590 views |  0 comments | 235 235 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nicholas Smith
Nicholas Smith
Sixty-two potential jurors filled out questionnaires this morning in preparation for next week’s capital murder trial of a man charged with kidnapping and killing a Wellborn teacher in 2011.

Circuit Judge Brian Howell, who is overseeing the trial of Nicholas Smith, said the questionnaires will be reviewed by the prosecution and the defense before Monday.

Answers potential jurors submitted on the 11-page, 96-question form are confidential and cannot be disclosed without court approval.

Smith, 24, is one of three men charged with kidnapping and murdering Wellborn Elementary School third-grade teacher Kevin Thompson, 29, of Jacksonville in April 2011.

Tyrone Thompson, a childhood friend of Kevin Thompson, and Jovon Gaston, are also charged with kidnapping Kevin Thompson and forcing him to withdraw money from several banks and ATMs in Jacksonville. The teacher’s body was discovered by police on U.S. 278 in Cherokee County nearly two days after he was reported missing.

The questionnaire asks prospective jurors’ criminal history, newspaper, television and radio preferences, and whether they are opposed to or in favor of the death penalty.

Howell said the questionnaire serves as a way to make the selection process more efficient.

“It saves us a lot of time. So we don’t spend three or four days selecting a jury,” he said.

The judge said his goal is to have 60 jurors to select from Monday and he’s happy to be right on target. Howell said 117 people came to the Calhoun County Courthouse on this morning, but only 62 surveys were completed. The other 55 possible jurors asked to be excused for medical reasons, vacations plans and work-related issues, Howell said.

On Monday, 12 jurors and two alternates will be selected for the trial. Howell expects to hear opening statements from attorneys Tuesday morning.

Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.

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