Jury selection moves slow in AU student murder trial

By Katherine Kington - email | Twitter

OPELIKA, AL  (WTVM) - Tuesday marked day 2 in the capital murder trial of Courtney Lockhart. He is the man accused of kidnapping, robbing, attempting to rape and killing Auburn University freshman Lauren Burk.

Media coverage is playing a large role in determining the jury, they were asked several times if they had seen any coverage, how much, from what sources and would it alter their judgments in the case.

Roughly, 95% of the individuals compiled in the panels from Tuesday say they've seen media coverage of the Courtney Lockhart case.

The jurors were divided into 26 small groups, called panels, each one containing roughly 5 to 8 people, where they were asked specific questions. Then individuals were brought in one at a time where they were asked further questions by both the defense and prosecution.

Lockhart wearing an Olive Blazer and Khaki's watched calmly as Judge Jacob Walker focused heavily on the jurors opinions of the sentences, life without parole and the death penalty, if Lockhart is found guilty.

They were asked if they object to the death penalty for capital murder, do they believe the death penalty should be immediately imposed for capital murder, do they believe life without parole should be automatically imposed and more.

District Attorney Nick Abbett told the jurors, around 50 witnesses would be those who had seen or handled evidence in the case, mostly law enforcement, and warned some pictures and recordings will be graphic.

Lockhart's defense asked jurors their thoughts on post traumatic stress disorder and if they or any of their family members have suffered from it.

Lockhart was in the army for 3 years and served in Iraq. He was dishonorably discharged for punching a sergeant

The jury will be dwindled down to a total of 12 with three alternates.

Judge Walker said they expect this case to last two weeks, holding trial this Thursday (Veterans Day) and may also hold trial next Saturday if need be.

Opening statements are expected to begin Thursday, as it will be the first video allowed to be taken in the trial.

Count on News Leader 9 to bring you updates from the trial.

©2010 WTVM. All rights reserved.