Adams County’s first capital murder trial in 10 years begins jury selection today

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 16, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; The first Adams County capital murder trial in almost a decade is set to start Monday in Adams County Circuit Court.

Jeffrey K. Havard, 23, is accused of sexually assaulting and killing Chloe Madison Britt, a 6-month-old girl. If he is found guilty, he could receive the death penalty.

The case, which will be heard before Circuit Judge Forrest &uot;Al&uot; Johnson, will start Monday with jury selection, &uot;which will probably take all day Monday,&uot; said District Attorney Ronnie Harper.

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With the prosecution alone calling 15 to 20 witnesses, &uot;I anticipate it wrapping up Wednesday at the earliest,&uot; but probably Thursday or or Friday, Harper said.

That does not include the sentencing phase that will follow if Havard is found guilty.

The trial was originally set for October, but Johnson’s caseload precluded it.

Britt was the daughter of Havard’s former girlfriend, Rebecca J. Britt of Ferriday, La. Authorities believe Havard sexually abused the infant before killing her.

Autopsy reports show the child’s cause of death was a subdural hemorrhage, which authorities said was consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

Rebecca Britt told sheriff’s investigators that she left her child with Havard on the night of Feb. 21 and went to the grocery store.

When she returned, Havard asked her to go rent a movie. She said that when she returned from the movie store, her child was lying breathless in her crib.

Havard told authorities that he accidentally dropped the child while attempting to bathe her.

When Rebecca Britt and Havard brought the child, who was not breathing, to Natchez Community Hospital later on the night of Feb. 21, hospital officials alerted the Sheriff’s Office.

The baby was resuscitated, but later died.

Adams County’s last capital murder trial was in 1993, when Joseph Patrick &uot;Peanut&uot; Brown was sentenced to die by lethal injection.

Brown as found guilty of the August 1992 murder of convenience store clerk Martha Day during an armed robbery.

Brown still sits on death row. It has been more than 50 years since an inmate from Adams County has been executed.