HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — An estimated 600 jury summons will be issued for prospective jurors in the upcoming capital murder trial of a man accused of killing Huntsville STAC Agent Billy Clardy in December 2019.
During a status hearing in the case Wednesday morning, Madison County Circuit Judge Chris Comer said the goal is to have a jury panel of 130 people. That pool of would-be jurors will be given a roughly 40-page questionnaire for the attorneys to review as part of jury selection.
LaJeromeny Brown, 45, is set to go on trial beginning Oct. 16 and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Both sides in the case said much of the questionnaire is focused on attitudes about the death penalty and the level of public awareness about the case.
Clardy was fatally wounded in a house on Levert Street in Huntsville during a botched drug sting on Dec. 6, 2019. He later died at Huntsville Hospital. Investigators say an undercover officer had arranged to buy 100 pounds of marijuana from Brown. Clardy and another officer were waiting inside the house where Brown had agreed to meet. Clardy was shot in the encounter, according to testimony from Brown’s preliminary hearing.
Judge Comer on Wednesday held a status hearing focused on trial logistics. After conferring with defense attorneys Bruce Gardner and Eric Wood, Madison County Chief Deputy District Attorney Tim Gann and Tim Douthit, chief trial attorney for the DA’s office, a proposed schedule was laid out.
Jury summons are set to go out next week with jurors due to report on Oct. 16. A pool of 130 people will be drawn from that number and they will be given questionnaires to fill out. Once the questionnaires are submitted, the defense and prosecution will have two full days to review. The judge had initially suggested one day, but the defense asked for more time given the volume of questions and the number of would-be jurors.
The jury pool will report in four groups over four days for individual voir dire – basically, jury questioning by the judge and lawyers – with a goal of selecting a jury by Tuesday, Oct. 24.
Opening statements in the case are tentatively set for Oct. 25 and the prosecution said it expects it can finish its case within two and a half days.
If Brown is convicted of capital murder, there would then be a penalty phase to the trial. The penalty phase is where the same jury decides on one of two possible sentences – death or life in prison without parole.
The defense has already expressed concern about the climate surrounding this case.
In June, the defense asked Comer to delay the trial based on media coverage of the March shooting where Huntsville Police Department Officer Garrett Crumby Crumby was killed and Officer Albert Morin was critically wounded. Huntsville resident Juan Laws has been charged with capital murder in Crumby’s death.
In July, Comer denied the motion to delay Brown’s trial.