Potential jurors grilled in bush-ax murder trial - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Potential jurors grilled in bush-ax murder trial

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) -  Wearing pink and blue ribbons on their lapels, Bernice and Jim Johnson have braced themselves for what will be a long and emotional trial.

The pink ribbon honors their daughter Anne Curry, the 24-year-old pregnant mother who was slaughtered in her Columbus home off Macon Road on August 29, 1985. Smaller pink and blue ribbons are for her children- four-year-old Erica and 20-month-old Ryan- who were killed by her side along with her unborn baby boy. The growing family was killed with a bush ax.

The man police say was behind their brutal murders, husband and father to the victims, Michael Curry, faced the potential jurors who will be deciding his fate as the first phase of his trial got underway Monday. Curry is facing three counts of malice murder and three counts of felony murder for killing his pregnant wife and two young children. He has entered a plea of not guilty.

Before testimony can begin and evidence can be presented, the court needs to find jury members who have not formed any set opinions about Curry in a case that's been covered by the media for nearly 26 years. The prosecution and defense continued to narrow down their list as jury selection entered a second day Tuesday.

Curry, now 53, was not charged with the crimes until 2009. 

After his arrest, Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren revealed Curry, an electrician, has been married several times since the killings and worked in the Dalton, GA school district since the 90s as a maintenance engineer.

The state says they have new evidence against him but have never said what it is. They also have never addressed a possible motive. Those details will come out as the trial progresses.

But first, Curry needs an unbiased jury. His lawyers have argued it will be impossible for him to have a fair trial in Columbus. Potential members are being grilled individually by both sides before a panel of 12 is selected.

Chief Muscogee Count Superior Court Judge John Allen is handling the trial. Julia Slater, District Attorney for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, is prosecuting the case herself for the state. Chief Public Defender Robert Wadkins is representing Curry.

Slater's line of questioning Monday and Tuesday suggested the state's case may be based on circumstantial evidence. She asked potential jurors if they ever watch forensic TV shows like CSI and if they think every crime scene has a magical piece of evidence like hair fibers or footprints that solves the crimes. She also asked them if they think you need forensic evidence like DNA in order to convict someone of a crime.

Judge Allen told the prosecution and defense he expects the trial to take between two to three weeks. The judge says he would like to have a pool of 50 qualified potential jurors to select from. He told both sides he's "going to move this case" and says he does not want any redundancy. He told Slater and Wadkins to be ready to call witnesses once testimony begins.

The trial will continue Wednesday on the 9th floor of the Columbus Government Center downtown.

Recent murder trials in Columbus have been streamed live online but this trial will not. The prosecution and defense were against it.

Curry is not charged with the murder of his unborn child because feticide was not a crime in Georgia in 1985.

Copyright 2011 WXTX. All rights reserved. 

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