Jury selected for Georgia prisoner accused of killing guards

CAIRO, Ga. (AP) — Jury selection wrapped up Friday in the trial of one of two Georgia prisoners accused of killing two guards more than four years ago, and opening statements are set to begin Monday.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Donnie Rowe in the killings of Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue in June 2017. Rowe and Ricky Dubose are accused of using the guards’ guns to shoot them while escaping from a prison transfer bus southeast of Atlanta. They were arrested in Tennessee a few days later.

Dubose also faces the death penalty and will be tried separately.

Jury selection took about three weeks, and was delayed briefly in the middle to wait for the results of a defense attorney’s COVID-19 test.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors on Friday selected eight men and nine women for a total of 12 jurors and five alternates, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said.

Because of pretrial publicity, jury selection was held in rural Grady County, in south Georgia. But the selected jurors will be bused about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north to Putnam County, where they’ll stay in a hotel for the duration of the trial.

Before jury selection began, Rowe’s lawyers had asked for the trial to be delayed, saying a surge in COVID-19 infections in Georgia could force a mistrial in the case. Putnam County Superior Court Chief Judge Brenda Trammell denied the request.

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