COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Jury selection continued Tuesday in a high-profile Columbus murder trial.
Johnathon Swift, Tommie Mullins, Dover Coppins, and Tyree Smith are facing murder charges in the April 2018 shooting death of 32-year-old Branden Denson.
Monday, one of the co-defendants, Eric Spencer, took a guilty plea on reduced charges. Part of the terms of that plea was he would testify for the prosecution. Spencer will likely become the star witness in the prosecution’s case.
The shooting happened in the Buena Vista Road Pizza Hut parking lot during what authorities have described as a drug transaction.
Authorities say the victim had a large quantity of marijuana and the defendants intended to rob him of the drugs or purchase it with counterfeit cash.
Jury selection started Monday and is dragging into today. Superior Court Judge David Emerson has indicated he needs a panel of 36 prospective jurors for the attorneys to whittle down to 12.
The judge has excused potential jurors from the pool for conflicts based on medical reasons, bias, and relationships with the parties involved.
A jury could be seated later today.
For the second consecutive day, the victim’s mother, Marcia Denson, was sitting in the courtroom. Over the last four years, she has attended more than 50 hearings and court dates involved in this case.
Many of the multi-defendant trials have been put on hold for two years because of COVID concerns. Marcia Denson made a passionate plea two months ago about the time and toll this case was having on her. A trial date was set moments after she addressed the court.