Spillers jury under selection - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Spillers jury under selection

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May 15, 2006

Leesburg -- It was a year ago, February 14 that 17-year-old Wesley Beaver was shot and killed by former Lee County Sheriff's deputy Donnie Spillers. Now the trial is beginning for Spillers accused of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering.

Beaver was shot after being chased and stopped by Sheriff's deputies on Highway 19 South in February of 2005. Spillers admits he shot Wesley Beaver, but he says he thought Beaver was going for a gun.

Now, Jury selection is underway. It's an emotionally-charged case that has divided the community and the judge has yet to determine if an impartial jury can be seated in Lee County.

Two-hundred-twenty-five Lee Countians were summoned for this trial. That's about 100 more than they normally summon for a trial session in Lee County.

It's all in hopes that by tonight they'll have a jury in place and tomorrow they can begin testimony.

The line stretched out the door of the Lee County courthouse. Once 130 potential jurors were inside, the indictment against Donald Spillers was read.

"On or about February 14, 2005, did then and there unlawfully cause the death of Roger Wesley Beaver, a human being..." were the charges read to the court by District AttorneyCecelia Cooper.

Both the prosecution and defense asked potential jurors general questions. "The first question I have has to do with geography, before I even talk about where all this happened, how many of you know, where it happened," said Defense Attorney Pete Donaldson.

But the defense was most concerned about what potential jurors might have already heard on the street. "If you have heard rumors of a personal nature related to this case, please raise you hand and let me know," Donaldson said.

Jurors reported back Monday afternoon for more specific questioning before the judge and defendant. Amy, "I was a little nervous because I saw Donnie in there, and I didn't expect that, obviously I have never had jury duty before so, it was interesting," said Amy Cash, who was excused as a juror.

Many were relieved to learn that they had been excused. Sharla, "I don't know whether I'd want to have to judge somebody. I don't know if I want to be responsible for making somebody not guilty or guilty," said Sharla Taylor, who was also excused from jury duty.

Tonight at 5:00, 40 jurors were asked to return. Both sides are using their strikes to get the 12 jurors and two alternates that will hear the case.

Opening statements are expected to be delivered Tuesday morning. WALB News Ten will continue to bring you coverage of the trial throughout the week at noon, five, six, and eleven.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=SpillersJury/Emert