2 defendants drop out of Pittsview pastor murder trial

Pittsview pastor murder trial now underway

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - The trial against five people accused of killing an east Alabama minister is now underway.

We have learned two defendants have dropped out of the trial.

Jody Perry pleaded guilty to one count aggravated assault. He was previously charged with murder.

Joel Thomas will testify in exchange for a plea deal.

Three others are charged with the death of Pittsview Pastor Blanchard Thomas, who was found shot to death underneath the Oglethorpe Bridge in Columbus in March 2011.

The trial was to have begun Tuesday morning with jury selection, but it was delayed until 2 p.m.

Two of the defendants are expected to testify against the other three.

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