Crime Watch

UPATOI TRIPLE MURDER TRIAL: Jury selected in Day 5 of trial

COLUMBUS, Ga. - UPDATE: The jury for the Upatoi Triple Murder Trial is seated. The group consists of 9 men and 7 women. There are also 7 African-American jurors and 9 Caucasian. 


Jury pool questioning has wrapped up in the Upatoi Triple Murder Trial.

Earlier this week, 19-year-old Jervarceay Tapley and 21-year-old Raheam Gibson pled guilty in the January 2016 murders of a grandmother, her son and her granddaughter.

So now, 17-year-old Rufus Burks is the only defendant who will stand trial.

The prosecution and defense have now chosen the 12 jurors and their alternates who will sit for the rest of the Upatoi Triple Murder Trial. 

Thursdays questions included how jurors feel about 17-year-old Rufus Burks, the only remaining defendant, maintaining his innocence alone and if they can accept testimony from Raheam Gibson, who will take the stand against Burks as part of his plea deal.

Before both sides chose their jurors, Defense Attorney Jennifer Curry once again requested the judge consider a change of venue. She argued community attitudes about Rufus Burks and his co-defendant's online show he has already been convicted in the court of public opinion. Prosecutors, in turn, argued there are more than plenty qualified among the panel to find an impartial jury.

"The one (online comment) included in my motion is that, 'he's not a boy, he's not a man, he's lower than an animal, all three of them are lower than animals and that's the sentiment of the community here," says Jennifer Curry, Defense Attorney for Rufus Burks.

"She cannot show that Muscogee County is an inherently prejudicial setting for this trial, which again this only occurs in extremely rare cases," says Chris Williams, Prosecution.

Judge McBride thought it over and denied the request. He said both sides have plenty of opportunities during questioning to see how much potential jurors knew and most replied they had not kept up with the case after it happened.

Both sides will deliver opening statements Monday.



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