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Phillips To Stand Trial In Marshall County For Murder of Pregnant Wife

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Jury selection continued Tuesday in a Marshall County capital murder trial.

Investigators said Jesse Phillips killed his pregnant wife, Erica Carmen Droze, at the Lakeside Car Wash in Guntersville in February 2009.

They were in separate cars, and police said Phillips shot his wife in the head.

The couple's other two children were also at the car wash at the time of their mother's death. 

In 2006, the Alabama legislature passed Brody's Law, which allows prosecutors to charge a person with capital murder in the death of an unborn child.

Marshall County prosecutors charged Phillips with the murder of Droze and the fetus under that law, which district attorney Steve Marshall said is its first use in the state.

Previously, individuals faced a charge for child endangerment of a fetus.

Marshall said he anticipates jury selection will last most of four days.

Jurors received a 29 page questionnaire Monday, which included very detailed questions about their personal and professional histories.

Other questions particularly relevant to this case are about opinions involving the death penalty, guns, and race relations--as the victim in this case is white and the suspect is black.

Attorneys split the 84 jurors into six panels of 14, and questioned two panels Tuesday afternoon.

They will question the other four panels Wednesday, and strike a jury Thursday morning.

Marshall said he expects to present opening statements Thursday afternoon.

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