A Columbus murder suspect's day in court

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - After two rejected plea offers, a Columbus woman accused of a 2007 murder has her day in court.  Jury selection was completed and opening arguments started in the trial of Diana Branchfield.

Branchfield is charged with the murder of a truck driver, Rob Belfance, from New York. 
The prosecution wasted no time getting down to business.  The Assistant DA, Sadhana Dailey, says it will be Branchfield's own words that convict her, "her own mouth, her own statements, statements she made to police, statements she made to her friends."  A taped police interview is the evidence jurors will hear during the second day of the trial.

The prosecution says Branchfield has admitted to planning the robbery that led to the death of Belfance.

The defense has a different view of that taped interview. "We believe that you will see her statement was made under duress and that it is not a credible statement," says Nancy Miller, Branchfield's attorney.

Miller also said there is not enough police evidence, "We also believe that the evidence will show that police could not build a case with any forensic evidence, no fingerprints, no eyewitness, no gun."

Eleven pictures of the scene were the first evidence shown to the jurors.

The first police officer to arrive on the scene relived what he found.

"We went up and saw a white male sitting in the driver's side of the truck and he was slumped over at the time. I opened the door and checked for a pulse and there was no pulse," says Officer Anthony Locey.

Branchfield's case is expected to last three days.

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