HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — As the first week of the capital murder trial of LaJeromeny Brown wraps up, the case is still in the jury selection phase.
Brown is charged with killing Huntsville STAC Agent Billy Clardy in December 2019, during a botched drug sting.
Both sides in the case requested a large jury panel because of the pre-trial publicity surrounding the case and the fact that prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The jury panel of 130 was asked to fill out a lengthy questionnaire Monday that included a focus on pre-trial publicity and attitudes about the death penalty.
The panel was also broken into four groups and the attorneys and Madison County Circuit Judge Chris Comer began questioning members of the first group Thursday. That process, questioning a group a day, will run through Tuesday, when Comer said jury selection will take place.
Much of the questioning was based on follow-ups to answers panel members had given in the questionnaire.
During the questioning of today’s panel of 35 would-be jurors, a number expressed misgivings about the death penalty, often based on religious reasons. Others said they thought the death penalty was only appropriate in extreme cases, such as terror attacks, mass murders, attacks on children and against serial killers. Some were excused, and several said they could possibly vote for a death sentence depending on the evidence.
There were also some panelists who puzzled over Alabama law which says it is capital murder to kill a law enforcement officer on duty, even if the defendant did not know the victim was a police officer.
Clardy was shot in a house on Levert Street during a planned undercover drug buy on Dec. 6, 2019. Brown was supposed to sell undercover officers 100 pounds of marijuana.
Investigators have said as Brown entered the house Clardy approached him and Brown shot him. Clardy died at the hospital, Brown was arrested after a brief attempt to flee the scene, police said.
Comer told the would-be jurors today that jury selection is set to take place Tuesday afternoon with opening statements to begin Wednesday. The judge has said he expects it will take a week to try the case. Twelve jurors and four alternates will be selected.