Five men and nine women make up the jury and 12 of those individuals will decide the fate of Nicholas Smith.
Smith, 24, is one of three men charged with kidnapping and murdering Wellborn Elementary School third-grade teacher Kevin Thompson, 29, of Jacksonville in April 2011.
Tyrone Thompson, a childhood friend of Kevin Thompson, and Jovon Gaston, are also charged with kidnapping Kevin Thompson and forcing him to withdraw money from several banks and ATMs in Jacksonville. The men are charged with stabbing the teacher to death and discarding his body along the highway. Thompson’s body was discovered by police on U.S. 278 in Cherokee County nearly two days after he was reported missing.
Thompson’s mother, Frances Curry, and sister, Reena Curry, were present during the selection process. Frances Curry is scheduled to testify today and said on the eve of the trial that she was feeling “real emotional.”
During questioning by prosecutor District Attorney Brian McVeigh, the potential jurors were told that in order to serve on a capital case they needed to be willing to choose either the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole if the suspect were found guilty. Several potential jurors were excused because they stated they believed only one of those punishments should apply in this case, some saying death, some saying life in prison.
Another juror was let go because that person knew Kevin Thompson, while one was able to leave for medical reasons.
Calhoun County Circuit Judge Brian Howell told the jury the trial will begin this morning at 9. Jurors, who are not being sequestered, were instructed not to talk about the case with anyone and told the trial could last three weeks.
Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.